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., 09/21/2021
E.g., 09/21/2021

The court declined to issue a writ of certiorari to consider the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred in finding that he was a recidivist and thus qualified for lifetime SBM. The defendant failed to timely appeal on this ground. The court declined to issue the writ because the defendant had not shown that his argument has merit or that error was probably committed below. Here, the defendant argued that his convictions for indecent liberties against his daughter could not count as a “prior conviction” because they occurred on the same day as his guilty plea to the additional counts of indecent liberties against different victims. The court noted that the defendant was not simultaneously convicted of the offenses that rendered him a recidivist. After he was convicted and sentenced for offenses against his daughter, he plead guilty to separate offenses that occurred more than a decade earlier. At the time he pled guilty to those offenses, he had already been convicted and sentenced for the offenses against his daughter. Thus, he had a prior conviction for a reportable offense at the time the trial court sentenced him on the new convictions. The court concluded: “That his prior conviction occurred earlier the same day rather than the day before, or many years before, is irrelevant . . . .” 

The trial court’s conclusion that the defendant was a recidivist was not supported by competent evidence and therefore could not support the conclusion that the defendant must submit to lifetime sex offender registration and SBM. The trial court’s order determining that the defendant was a recidivist was never reduced to writing and made part of the record. Although there was evidence from which the trial court could have possibly determined that the defendant was a recidivist, it failed to make the relevant findings, either orally or in writing. The defendant’s stipulation to his prior record level worksheet cannot constitute a legal conclusion that a particular out-of-state conviction is “substantially similar” to a particular North Carolina offense.

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant was a recidivist for purposes of lifetime SBM. The prior record worksheet and defense counsel’s stipulation to the prior convictions support a finding that the defendant had been convicted of indecent liberties in 2005, even though it appears that the State did not introduce the judgment or record of conviction from that case, or a copy of defendant’s criminal history.

Affirming the trial court’s order requiring the defendant to enroll in SBM for life as a recidivist based on convictions for indecent liberties with a minor in 1989 and 2006. The defendant argued that his 1989 conviction for indecent liberties should not qualify him as a recidivist because that conviction was not itself reportable (convictions for indecent liberties are reportable for those convicted or released from a penal institution on or after January 1, 1996). The court held that a prior conviction need only be “described” in the statute defining reportable offenses. Thus, a prior conviction can qualify a person as a recidivist no matter how far back in time it occurred. The court also concluded that the defendant had not properly preserved the claim that SBM violates ex post facto.

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