Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium


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., 06/29/2024
E.g., 06/29/2024

Although the trial court erred by ordering the defendant to pay restitution for pecuniary losses arising from his alleged perpetration of charges in three indictments dismissed by the State pursuant to a plea agreement, the plea agreement need not be set aside. The defendant asserted that because he agreed to pay the invalid restitution as part of the plea deal, the appropriate remedy is to set aside the plea agreement. Although agreeing that the restitution order was improper, the court disagreed with the defendant that the plea agreement needed to be set aside. According to the transcript of plea, the plea arrangement provided that “‘[defendant] will plea to 7 counts of breaking and/or entering in lieu of the charges listed on the back of this transcript[,]’ and defendant checked the following box in that same section: ‘The defendant stipulates to restitution to the party(ies) in the amounts set out on ‘Restitution Worksheet, Notice And Order (Initial Sentencing)’ (AOC-CR-611).’” In a plea colloquy with the defendant the trial court specified: “And the plea bargain is that upon your plea of guilty to these seven charges the State will dismiss all other charges,” to which the defendant responded, “Yes, sir.” The court found that despite the defendant’s stipulation to restitution as provided in the State’s restitution worksheet, the defendant never agreed to pay restitution as part of the plea agreement. Rather, as described in the transcript of plea and explained during the plea colloquy, the essential and fundamental terms of the plea agreement were that the defendant would plead to seven counts of felony breaking or entering, and the State would drop the remaining charges. It concluded: “As defendant never agreed to pay restitution as part of the plea agreement, the invalidly ordered restitution was not an ‘essential or fundamental’ term of the deal. Accordingly, we hold the proper remedy here is not to set aside defendant’s entire plea agreement but to vacate the restitution order and remand for resentencing solely on the issue of restitution.”

State v. Thompson, ___ N.C. App. ___, 809 S.E.2d 340 (Jan. 2, 2018) vacated on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, 822 S.E.2d 616 (Feb 1 2019)

Where the record was inconsistent and unclear as to whether the defendant pled guilty to felony possession of marijuana, the court vacated a judgment for that offense and remanded, directing the trial court to “take the necessary steps to resolve the discrepancy between the transcript of plea and the written judgment.” The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the issue was simply a clerical error, finding: “on the basis of the record as presently constituted, it is not possible to determine whether judgment was properly entered on the charge of felony possession of marijuana.” A dissenting judge asserted that judgment should “simply be arrested as to [the possession] charge, or the matter should be remanded for correction of the clerical error.”

In a rape case, any error made by the trial court regarding the maximum possible sentence did not entitle the defendant to relief. The trial court’s statement was made in connection with noting for the record—on defense counsel’s request—that the defendant had rejected a plea offer by the State. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the provisions of G.S. 15A-1022 should apply, noting that statute only is applicable when the defendant actually pleads guilty; a trial court is not required to make an inquiry into a defendant’s decision not to plead guilty.

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