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., 06/04/2023
E.g., 06/04/2023

The defendant’s shooting of the victim’s mother (the defendant’s wife) while the victim was in utero was a proximate cause of the victim’s death after being born alive. The gunshot wound necessitated the child’s early delivery, the early delivery was a cause of a complicating condition, and that complicating condition resulted in her death.

In a case in which a second officer got into a vehicular accident and died while responding to a first officer’s communication about the defendant’s flight from a lawful stop, the defendant’s flight from the first officer was the proximate cause of the second officer’s death. The evidence was sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to conclude that the second officer’s death would not have occurred had the defendant not fled and that the second officer’s death was reasonably foreseeable. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the second officer’s contributory negligence broke the causal chain.

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of death. The defendant argued that two unforeseeable events proximately caused the victims’ deaths: a third-party’s turn onto the road and the victims’ failure to yield the right-of-way. The court found that the first event foreseeable. As to the second, it noted that the defendant's speeding and driving while impaired were concurrent proximate causes.

There was sufficient evidence to survive a motion to dismiss in a case in which the defendant was charged with second-degree murder under G.S. 14-17 for having a proximately caused a murder by the unlawful distribution and ingestion of Oxymorphone. There was sufficient evidence that the defendant’s sale of the pill was a proximate cause of death where the defendant unlawfully sold the pill to the two friends, who later split it in half and consumed it; the victim was pronounced dead the next morning, and cause of death was acute Oxymorphone overdose.

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