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., 09/22/2021
E.g., 09/22/2021

In this larceny by employee case, the trial court did not err by admitting 404(b) evidence. The charges arose out of a 2014 incident in which the defendant, a manager of an auto shop, kept for himself cash paid by a customer for auto repairs. At trial, an officer testified that in 2010 he investigated the defendant for embezzlement. The defendant, who was working as a restaurant manager, admitted stealing from the restaurant by voiding out cash transactions and keeping the cash for himself. The court found that evidence showing that the defendant embezzled from a previous employer four years prior was clearly relevant to show intent, plan, or absence of mistake or accident. In both cases, the defendant worked for the business, held a managerial position, took cash paid and intended for the business, kept the cash for himself, and manipulated accounting procedures to cover his tracks. The prior incident was sufficiently similar to the current one and was not too remote in time. Additionally, the trial court gave a proper limiting instruction.

In a case where the defendant was charged with embezzling from a school, trial court did not err by admitting evidence that the defendant misappropriated funds from a church to show absence of mistake, opportunity, motive, intent, and/or common plan or scheme. The record supported the trial court’s conclusion of similarity and temporal proximity.

In a residential robbery case, the trial court did not err by admitting 404(b) evidence of the defendant’s robbery at a Holiday Inn two days after the incident in question. As to similarity, the court noted that both incidents were armed robberies. Also, the perpetrators in both wore black hoodies and dark fabric covering part of their faces, immediately demanded money upon entering the buildings, used a black semi-automatic handgun by “pushing” it to the heads of the victims, restrained the victims in a similar manner, and moved the victims from place to place, searching for money.

In a robbery case involving a purse snatching, a purse-snatching by the defendant 6 weeks prior was properly admitted under Rule 404(b). The court found that the incidents were sufficiently in that they both occurred in Wal-Mart parking lots and involved a purse-snatching from a female victim who was alone. Also, the requirement of temporal proximity was satisfied. 

In a second-degree murder case stemming from a vehicle accident during a high speed chase following a shoplifting incident, details of the shoplifting incident were properly admitted under Rule 404(b). Evidence is admissible under Rule 404(b) when it is part of the chain of circumstances leading to the event at issue or when necessary to provide a complete picture for the jury. Here, the shoplifting incident explained the manner of the defendant’s flight.

(1) In a case in which the defendant faced homicide charges in connection with the death of an officer in a vehicular accident while that officer responded to a call regarding the defendant’s flight from another officer’s lawful stop of the defendant’s vehicle, the trial court did not err by admitting 404(b) evidence that the defendant had been involved in a robbery. In the robbery the defendant and an accomplice fled from the police and the accomplice was shot and killed by police officers. This was admitted to show implied malice in that it showed the defendant’s knowledge that flight from the police was dangerous and could result in death. (2) The trial court did not err by admitting evidence that the defendant and two other occupants of his vehicle stole several pounds of marijuana just before the defendant fled from the officer. The evidence showed the defendant’s motive to flee and his “intent or implied malice.” 

In an armed robbery case, evidence of the defendant’s involvement in another robbery was properly admitted under Rule 404(b). In both instances, the victims were robbed of their credit or debit cards by one or more handgun-wielding individuals with African accents, which were then used by the defendant to purchase gas at the same gas station within a very short period of time. The evidence was admissible to prove a common plan or scheme and identity. The court further held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by failing to exclude the evidence under Rule 403.

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