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., 07/21/2024
E.g., 07/21/2024

The court reversed the trial court’s lifetime registration and SBM orders. When a trial court finds a person was convicted of a “reportable conviction,” it must order that person to maintain sex offender registration for a period of at least 30 years. If a trial court also finds that the person has been classified as a sexually violent predator, is a recidivist, or was convicted of an aggravated offense, it must order lifetime registration. Before a trial court may impose SBM, it must make factual findings determining that (i) the offender has been classified as a sexually violent predator pursuant to G.S. 14-208.20, (ii) the offender is a recidivist, (iii) the conviction offense was an aggravated offense, (iv) the conviction offense was a violation of G.S. 14-27.2A or G.S. 14-27.4A, or (v) the offense involved the physical, mental, or sexual abuse of a minor. Because the victim was not a minor, only the first three categories are relevant here. However in its orders, the trial court found that the defendant had not been convicted of an aggravated offense, was not a recidivist, nor had he been classified as a sexually violent predator. It nevertheless ordered the defendant to enroll in lifetime registration and lifetime SBM. The court reversed the registration and SBM orders and remanded those issues for resentencing. The court noted that if the State pursues SBM on remand, it must satisfy its burden of presenting evidence from which the trial court can fulfill its judicial duty to make findings concerning the reasonableness of SBM under the fourth amendment pursuant to the Grady decision.

The trial court erred by ordering lifetime registration for the defendant. Although the defendant was convicted of reportable convictions and is therefore required to register as a sex offender, neither sexual offense with a child under G.S. 14-27.4A(a) nor sexual activity by a substitute parent under G.S. 14-27.7(a) constitute aggravated offenses requiring lifetime registration.

The court reversed and remanded the trial court’s order imposing lifetime SBM. The trial court erred by finding that the defendant was a recidivist where the only evidence presented by the State was the oral statement of the prosecutor that the defendant had obtained reportable offenses in 1989 and 2006. The State conceded that neither witness testimony nor documentary evidence was presented to establish the defendant’s prior criminal history and that statements by the lawyers constituted the only basis to find that the defendant had been convicted of the two offenses. The court held: “Something more than unsworn statements, which are unsupported by any documentation, is required as evidence under the statute to allow the trial court to impose lifetime SBM.” The court also rejected the notion that defense counsel’s statements to the court constituted a stipulation to the two prior convictions.

State v. Barnett, 245 N.C. App. 101 (Jan. 19, 2016) rev’d in part on other grounds, 369 N.C. 298 (Dec 21 2016)

The trial court erroneously concluded that attempted second-degree rape is an aggravated offense for purposes of lifetime SBM and lifetime sex offender registration. Pursuant to the statute, an aggravated offense requires a sexual act involving an element of penetration. Here, the defendant was convicted of attempted rape, an offense that does not require penetration and thus does not fall within the statutory definition of an aggravated offense.

The trial court erred by ordering lifetime sex offender registration and lifetime SBM because first-degree sexual offense is not an “aggravated offense” within the meaning of the sex offender statutes.

The trial court erred by requiring lifetime sex offender registration based on second-degree sexual offense convictions. Although the convictions qualify as reportable offenses requiring registration for 30 years, they do not constitute an aggravated offense requiring lifetime registration.

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