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., 10/21/2021
E.g., 10/21/2021

The evidence was sufficient to establish assault by strangulation. The victim testified that the defendant strangled her twice; the State’s medical expert testified that the victim’s injuries were consistent with strangulation; and photographic evidence showed bruising, abrasions, and a bite mark on and around the victim’s neck. The court rejected the defendant’s arguments that the statute required “proof of physical injury beyond what is inherently caused by every act of strangulation” or extensive physical injury.

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of assault by strangulation on the same victim. The defendant argued that because his obstruction of the victim’s airway was caused by the defendant’s hand over the victim’s nose and mouth, rather than “external pressure” applied to the neck, it was “smothering” not “strangling”. Rejecting this argument, the court concluded:

We do not believe that the statute requires a particular method of restricting the airways in the throat. Here, defendant constricted [the victim’s] airways by grabbing him under the chin, pulling his head back, covering his nose and mouth, and hyperextending his neck. Although there was no evidence that defendant restricted [the victim’s] breathing by direct application of force to the trachea, he managed to accomplish the same effect by hyperextending [the victim’s] neck and throat. The fact that defendant restricted [the victim’s] airway through the application of force to the top of his neck and to his head rather than the trachea itself is immaterial.

(1) The evidence was sufficient to establish assault by strangulation; the victim told an officer that she felt that the defendant was trying to crush her throat, that he pushed down on her neck with his foot, that she thought he was trying to “chok[e] her out” or make her go unconscious, and that she thought she was going to die. (2) Even if the offenses are not the same under the Blockburger test, the statutory language, “[u]nless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment,” prohibits sentencing a defendant for this offense and a more serious offense based on the same conduct.

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