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., 01/28/2023
E.g., 01/28/2023

The defendant was placed on probation in district court pursuant to a formal deferred prosecution agreement under G.S. 15A-1341(a1). A district court judge found him in violation and revoked his deferred prosecution probation. The defendant appealed to superior court for a de novo violation hearing, but a superior court judge dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal, concluding that there is no statutory right to appeal a revocation of probation in the deferred prosecution context, as that revocation does not “activate[] a sentence” within the meaning of G.S. 15A-1347(a). The court noted that the superior court could, in some cases, review district court revocations of deferred prosecution probation through its authority to issue writs of certiorari under Rule 19 of the General Rules of Practice for the Superior and District Courts.

State v. Pennell, 367 N.C. 466 (June 12, 2014)

Reversing the court of appeals, the court held that on direct appeal from the activation of a suspended sentence, a defendant may not challenge the jurisdictional validity of the indictment underlying his original conviction. The court reasoned that a challenge to the validity of the original judgment constitutes an impermissible collateral attack. It explained:

[D]efendant failed to appeal from his original judgment. He may not now appeal the matter collaterally via a proceeding contesting the activation of the sentence imposed in the original judgment. As such, defendant’s present challenge to the validity of his original conviction is improper. Because a jurisdictional challenge may only be raised when an appeal is otherwise proper, we hold that a defendant may not challenge the jurisdiction over the original conviction in an appeal from the order revoking his probation and activating his sentence. The proper procedure through which defendant may challenge the facial validity of the original indictment is by filing a motion for appropriate relief under [G.S.] 15A-1415(b) or petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus. Our holding here does not prejudice defendant from pursuing these avenues.

Slip Op. at 9-10 (footnote and citation omitted).

The court declined to consider the defendant’s argument that the trial court had no jurisdiction to revoke his probation because the sentencing court failed to make findings supporting a probation term of more than 30 months. It reasoned that a defendant cannot re-litigate the legality of a condition of probation unless he or she raises the issue no later than the hearing at which his probation is revoked.

A defendant may not challenge the validity of an indictment in an appeal challenging revocation of probation. In such circumstances, challenging the validity of the original judgment is an impermissible collateral attack. 

State v. Long, 220 N.C. App. 139 (Apr. 17, 2012)

On appeal from judgment revoking probation, the defendant could not challenge the trial court’s jurisdiction to enter the original judgment as this constituted an impermissible collateral attack on the original judgment. 

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