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

A defendant may not be convicted of assault with a deadly weapon under G.S. 14-32 and assault on a child under G.S. 14-33 based on the same incident. G.S. 14-33 states that a defendant shall be guilty of assault on a child unless another statue provides harsher punishment for the same conduct. Here, because the defendant was convicted and sentenced for assault with a deadly weapon for his assault on the same victim and since this conviction carries a harsher punishment than assault on a child, the conviction and sentence for assault on a child must be vacated.

Given the manner of its use, there was sufficient evidence that a kitchen table chair was a deadly weapon.

There was sufficient evidence that a lawn chair was a deadly weapon for purposes of assault. The victim was knocked unconscious and suffered multiple facial fractures and injuries which required surgery; after surgery his jaw was wired shut for weeks and he missed 2-3 weeks of work; and at trial the victim testified that he still suffered from vision problems. Because the State presented evidence that the defendant assaulted the victim with the lawn chair and not his fists alone, it was not required to present evidence as to the parties’ size or condition.

Based on the manner of its use, a car was a deadly weapon as a matter of law. The court based its conclusion on the vehicle’s high rate of speed and the fact that the officer had to engage in affirmative action to avoid harm.

The trial court did not err by instructing the jury that a pickaxe was a deadly weapon. The pickaxe handle was about 3 feet long, and the pickaxe weighed 9-10 pounds. The defendant swung the pickaxe approximately 8 times, causing cuts to the victim’s head that required 53 staples. She also slashed his middle finger, leaving it hanging only by a piece of skin.

The trial judge committed prejudicial error with respect to its instruction on the intent element for the charges of assault with a deadly weapon, in a case in which a vehicle was the deadly weapon. In order for a jury to convict of assault with a deadly weapon, it must find that it was the defendant's actual intent to strike the victim with his vehicle, or that the defendant acted with culpable negligence from which intent may be implied. Because the trial court’s instruction erroneously could have allowed the jury to convict without a finding of either actual intent or culpable negligence, reversible error occurred.

The evidence was sufficient to establish that the knife used in the assault was a deadly weapon where a witness testified that the knife was three inches long and the victim sustained significant injuries.

The vehicle at issue was not a deadly weapon as a matter of law where there was no evidence that the vehicle was moving at a high speed and given the victim’s lack of significant injury and the lack of damage to the other vehicle involved, a jury could conclude that the vehicle was not aimed directly at the victim and that the impact was more of a glancing contact.

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant’s hands were a deadly weapon as to one victim when the evidence showed that the defendant was a big, stocky man, probably larger than the victim, who was a female and a likely user of crack cocaine, and the victim sustained serious injuries. There was sufficient evidence that the defendant’s hands were a deadly weapon as to another victim when the evidence showed that the victim was a small-framed, pregnant woman with a cocaine addiction and the defendant used his hands to throw her onto the concrete floor, cracking her head open, and put his hands around her neck.

The defendant and an accomplice, both female, assaulted a male with fists and tree limbs. The two females individually, but not collectively, weighed less than the male victim, and both were shorter than him. They both were convicted of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. The court ruled that the evidence was sufficient to prove that the fists and the tree limbs were deadly weapons.

The defendant and his accomplice discussed intentionally forcing drivers off the road in order to rob them and one of them then deliberately threw a very large rock or concrete chunk through the driver’s side windshield of the victim’s automobile as it was approaching at approximately 55 or 60 miles per hour. The size of the rock and the manner in which it was used establishes that it was a deadly weapon.

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