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., 10/21/2021
E.g., 10/21/2021

In this impaired driving second-degree murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss which had asserted that violation of G.S. 15A-501 required dismissal of the charges. Under G.S. 15A-501, a law enforcement must bring a person arrested before a judicial official without unnecessary delay and must without unnecessary delay advise the person of his right to communicate with counsel and friends and must allow him a reasonable time and opportunity to do so. The vehicle crash occurred at 2:37 AM. An officer arrived at the scene between 3:15 and 3:20 AM and conducted field sobriety testing on the defendant. The defendant was arrested without a warrant for impaired driving and violation of his .04 BAC drivers license restriction. The defendant was taken to a hospital to have blood drawn. He arrived at the hospital around 4:33 AM. The officer advised the defendant of his rights and the defendant signed a rights form; he did not ask to have a witness or attorney present. A telephone was available to the defendant in the hospital room. The defendant’s blood was drawn at 4:55 AM and he was examined by a physician and cleared. The defendant was then taken to a law enforcement center where the lead detective arrived to interview the defendant at about 5:52 AM. The interview began at about 6:15 AM, at which time the defendant was read his Miranda rights and waived his rights. The interview concluded after an hour. The defendant was then charged with second-degree murder and felony serious injury by vehicle. After the detective checked the defendant’s criminal and driving history, an officer transported the defendant to the county jail for processing at 9:35 AM. He was brought before magistrate at approximately 11:11 AM. Prior to seeing the magistrate, the defendant made a phone call to a friend but did not ask the friend come to the jail until after he knew the conditions of his release. Reviewing these facts, the court noted that there was a seven hour delay between the defendant’s arrest and his appearance before a magistrate. The court noted that the defendant was afforded multiple opportunities to have witnesses or an attorney present and chose not to take advantage of those opportunities. It concluded: “Defendant cannot now assert that he was prejudiced to gain relief, either by the absence of a witness or attorney or by the time period between his arrest and appearance before a magistrate.” 

(1) The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress statements to officers on grounds that they were obtained in violation of G.S. 15A-501(2) (arrested person must be taken before a judicial official without unnecessary delay). After a consensual search of his residence produced controlled substances, the defendant and three colleagues were arrested for drug possession. The defendant, who previously had waived his Miranda rights, was checked into the County jail at 11:12 am. After again being informed of his rights, the defendant was interviewed from 1:59 pm to 2:53 pm and made incriminating statements about a murder. After the interview the defendant was taken before a magistrate and charged with drug offenses and murder. The defendant argued that the delay between his arrival at the jail and his initial appearance required suppression of his statements regarding the murder. The court noted that under G.S. 15A-974(2), evidence obtained as a result of a substantial violation of Chapter 15A must be suppressed upon timely motion; the statutory term “result” indicates that a causal relationship between a violation of the statute and the acquisition of the evidence to be suppressed must exist. The court concluded that the delay in this case was not unnecessary and there was no causal relationship between the delay and defendant’s incriminating statements made during his interview. The court rejected the defendant’s constitutional arguments asserted on similar grounds.

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