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., 10/04/2023
E.g., 10/04/2023

On July 19, August 24, and October 23, 2018, the defendant plead guilty to several charges. On each of these dates, the trial court suspended the sentences for twelve months of supervised probation and other special conditions of probation.

Between December 7, 2018 and November 22, 2019, the defendant engaged in numerous acts which prompted his probation officer to file violation reports. On December 2, 2019, the defendant appeared in district court for a hearing on the January 18, 2019 and April 4, 2019 violation reports. While in district court, the defendant waived his violation hearing and admitted he violated the conditions of his probation. The district court revoked the defendant’s probation and activated the sentences in his misdemeanor cases. The defendant gave notice of appeal to the superior court.

On December 23, 2019, the probation officer filed violation reports in superior court. At a February 5, 2020 hearing, the defendant admitted to willfully violating his probation. The superior court revoked the defendant’s probation and activated his suspended sentences in his remaining misdemeanor and felony cases. The defendant appealed.

The Court of Appeals held that the superior court did not have jurisdiction to hear the defendant’s appeal from district court. In reaching this conclusion, the Court cited G.S. 15A-1347(b), which states “If a defendant waives a revocation hearing, the finding of a violation of probation, activation of sentence, or imposition of special probation may not be appealed to the superior court.” The Court vacated the judgment of the superior court and reinstated the judgment of the district court.

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that his revocation was improper because the attorney who represented him at the revocation hearing was not his appointed attorney and trial court made no findings about a substitute attorney. Any error that occurred was not prejudicial.

G.S. 15A-1023(b), which grants a defendant the right to a continuance when a trial court refuses to accept a plea, does not apply when the trial court refuses to accept a plea in the context of a probation revocation proceeding.

(1) The trial court improperly ordered a forfeiture of the defendant’s licensing privileges without making a finding of fact required by G.S. 15A-1331A that the defendant failed to make reasonable efforts to comply with the conditions of her probation. The court noted that form AOC-CR-317 does not contain a section specifically designated for the required finding and encouraged revision of the form to add this required finding. (2) The term of the forfeiture exceeded statutory limits. A trial court revoking probation may order a license forfeiture under G.S. 15A-1331A(b)(2) at any time during the probation term, but the term of forfeiture cannot exceed the original probation term set by the sentencing court at the time of conviction. The defendant was placed on 24 months probation by the sentencing court, to end on December 15, 2009. His probation was revoked on Apr. 1, 2009, eight months before his probation was set to expire, and the trial court ordered the forfeiture for 24 months from the date of revocation. Because the forfeiture term extended beyond the defendant’s original probation, it was invalid. The court encouraged further revision of AOC-CR-317 (specifically the following note: “The ‘Beginning Date’ is the date of the entry of this judgment, and the ‘Ending Date’ is the date of the end of the full probationary term imposed at the time of conviction.”) “to clarify this issue and perhaps avoid future errors based upon misinterpretation of the form.”

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by declining to further stay another judge’s order finding a probation violation for failure to pay restitution and activating the sentence but staying execution of the order when the defendant presented no evidence of an inability to pay.

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