Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

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E.g., 09/21/2021
E.g., 09/21/2021

An embezzlement indictment was not fatally defective. The indictment alleged that the defendant:

unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did embezzle three thousand nine hundred fifty seven dollars and eighty one cents ($3,957.81) in good and lawful United States currency belonging to AMPZ, LLC d/b/a Interstate All Battery Center. At the time the defendant was over 16 years of age and was the employee of AMPZ, LLC d/b/a Interstate All Battery Center and in that capacity had been entrusted to receive the property described above and in that capacity the defendant did receive and take into her care and possession that property.

The defendant argued that the indictment failed to allege that she acted with fraudulent intent. The court determined that “the concept of fraudulent intent is already contained within the ordinary meaning of the term ‘embezzle,’” as used in the indictment. The court noted that the defendant did not argue that she was prejudiced in her ability to prepare a defense because of this issue. It further noted that to convict the defendant of embezzlement, the State must prove that she fraudulently or knowingly and willfully misapplied or converted the property. Here, the indictment can fairly be read to allege that the defendant “knowingly and willfully” embezzled from her employer.

            The court also rejected the argument that the indictment was defective for failing to specify the acts constituting embezzlement. The indictment alleges that the defendant embezzled a specific sum of money entrusted to her in a fiduciary capacity as an employee of the company. The court “fail[ed] to see how these allegations would not adequately apprise Defendant as to the charges facing her or prejudice her ability to prepare a defense.”

There was no fatal variance in a larceny by employee indictment where the indictment alleged that the defendant’s employer was “Precision Auto Care, Inc. (PACI), a corporation” but the evidence at trial showed the actual name of the corporation to be “Precision Franchising, Inc.” doing business as “Precision Tune Auto Care.” The court noted in part: “Our courts have repeatedly held that minor variations between the name of the corporate entity alleged in the indictment and the evidence presented at trial are immaterial, so long as [t]he defendant was adequately informed of the corporation which was the accuser and victim. A variance will not be deemed fatal where there is no controversy as to who in fact was the true owner of the property.” The court noted that the variation in names did not impair the defendant’s ability to defend against the charges.

The trial court did not err by allowing the State to amend an embezzlement indictment. The indictment originally alleged that “the defendant . . . was the employee of MBM Moving Systems, LLC . . . .” The amendment added the words “or agent” after the word “employee.” The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the nature of his relationship to the victim was critical to the charge and thus that the amendment substantially altered the charge. The court held that the terms “employee” and “agent” “are essentially interchangeable” for purposes of this offense. The court noted that the defendant was not misled or surprised as to the charges against him.

In an embezzlement case, no fatal variance occurred where the indictment alleged that Smokey Park Hospitality, Inc., d/b/a Comfort Inn had an interest in the property. Although the evidence showed that Smokey Park Hospitality never owned the hotel, it acted as a management company and ran the business. Smokey Park Hospitality thus had a special property interest in the embezzled money.

(1) In a larceny by employee case, the trial court erred by allowing the State to amend the bill of indictment. The indictment stated that the defendant was an employee of “Cape Fear Carved Signs, Incorporated.” The State moved to amend by striking the word “Incorporated,” explaining that the business was a sole proprietorship of Mr. Neil Schulman. The amendment was a substantial alteration in the charge. (2) The court rejected the State’s argument that the defendant waived his ability to contest the indictment by failing to move to dismiss it at trial, reiterating that jurisdictional issues may be raised at any time.

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