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., 04/17/2024
E.g., 04/17/2024
(Dec. 31, 1969)

In an assault on a female case, the State conceded that the trial court erred by sentencing the defendant to 24 months of supervised probation without making a specific finding, as required by G.S. 15A-1343.2(d), that a probationary period longer than 18 months was necessary.  The court remanded the case for resentencing.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

In this Perquimans County case, defendant appealed the trial court’s finding that he violated the terms of his probation, arguing the trial court extended his probation after the probationary term had expired without a finding of good cause. The Court of Appeals agreed, vacating the order and remanding to the trial court to determine if good cause exists.  

Defendant, a town council member, was placed on probation for striking another council member in October 2018. After entering an Alford plea to assault of a government official, defendant was sentenced in December 2019 to 60 days of imprisonment, suspended for 24 months supervised probation with 15 days of active term, and a curfew from 7pm to 6am. Defendant’s probation officer filed violation reports alleging that defendant violated the curfew and left the county without prior approval. The matter was initially set for an August 2020 hearing, but after continuances, the matter did not reach a hearing until February of 2022. By that time, defendant’s probationary term had expired, ending in December 2021. After the February 2022 hearing, the trial court entered an order extending defendant’s probation for another 12 months and ordering a 45-day active term as a condition of special probation. Defendant appealed.

The Court of Appeals looked first to G.S. 15A-1344(f), which allows a trial court to extend probation after the expiration of the term in certain circumstances. Relevant for this case, a trial court must find that the defendant violated a condition of probation, and then make a finding under (f)(3) that “for good cause shown and stated the probation should be extended.” Slip Op. at 4. The court explained that “A finding of good cause ‘cannot simply be inferred from the record.’” Id., quoting State v. Morgan, 372 N.C. 609, 617 (2019). Because the hearing here occurred after defendant’s probation term expired, and the record contained no finding of good cause to satisfy G.S. 15A-1344(f)(3), the court remanded for further determination by the trial court. 

The court also vacated the 45-day active term imposed after the expiration of defendant’s probation, finding error by the trial court for two reasons. First, under the calculation required by G.S. 15A-1351(a), “the maximum period of confinement that could have been imposed as a condition of special probation was 15 days,” which defendant had served at the beginning of his sentence. Id. at 6. Second, because the statute sets an outer deadline of “the end of the probationary term or two years after the date of conviction, whichever comes first,” defendant’s additional 45-day active term was outside the acceptable period. Id. at 7. 

(Dec. 31, 1969)

The defendant was a passenger in a car stopped at a traffic checkpoint. An officer smelled marijuana emanating from the vehicle. The defendant told the officer that the marijuana was located in a bag behind the driver’s seat. The officer found a drawstring bag there, which the defendant said was his. Inside the bag, the officer found two plastic bags containing marijuana, a hookah, a snort straw, and a beer can. The beer can was altered to be a container that could be unscrewed. Inside the beer can the officer found two white crystallized substances later identified as Methylone and a Lorazepam tablet.

The defendant was charged with felony possession of a Schedule I controlled substance (Methylone), misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia based on his possession of the altered beer can. He was convicted and sentenced to 6 to 17 months for the felony and 120 days (to run consecutively) for each misdemeanor offense. Each sentence was suspended, and the defendant was placed on probation for 36 months. He also was ordered to serve 12 days of special probation for the felony.

The defendant argued on appeal that the sentences for the misdemeanor offenses were unlawful because the trial court did not make finding that a longer period of probation was necessary. The court of appeals agreed.

G.S. 15A-1343.2(d)(2) provides that “[u]nless the court makes specific findings that longer or shorter periods of probation are necessary,” the probationary period for a misdemeanant sentenced to intermediate punishment (which includes any suspended sentence that requires supervised probation) must be not less than 12 nor more than 24 months. The record supported the defendant’s argument that the trial court made no specific findings; therefore, the court of appeals vacated the misdemeanor judgments and remanded for resentencing.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

The trial court erred by entering a period of probation longer than 18 months without making the findings that the extension was necessary. 

(Dec. 31, 1969)

The trial court made sufficient findings to support its decision to place the defendant on probation for sixty months.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

No statutory authority supported the trial court’s orders extending the defendant’s probation beyond the original 60-month period and they were thus void. The orders extending probation were not made within the last 6 months of probation and the defendant did not consent to the extension. The orders also resulted in an 8-year period of probation, a term longer that the statutory maximum. Turning to the issue of whether the original 60-month probation was tolled pending resolution of New Jersey criminal charges, the court found the record insufficient and remanded for further proceedings. 

(Dec. 31, 1969)

The trial judge violated G.S. 15A-1351 by imposing a period of special probation that exceeded ¼ of the maximum sentence of imprisonment imposed. The trial judge also violated G.S. 15A-1343.2 by imposing a term of probation greater than 36 months without making the required specific findings supporting the period imposed.

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