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
State v. Hunt, 365 N.C. 432 (Mar. 9, 2013)

(1) Reversing a decision of the court of appeals in State v. Hunt, 211 N.C. App. 452 (May 3, 2011), the court held that expert testimony was not required for the State to establish that the victim had a mental disability for purposes of second-degree sexual offense. In the opinion below, the court of appeals reversed the defendant’s conviction on grounds that there was insufficient evidence as to the victim’s mental disability, reasoning: “where the victim’s IQ falls within the range considered to be ‘mental retardation[,]’ but who is highly functional in her daily activities and communication, the State must present expert testimony as to the extent of the victim’s mental disability as defined by [G.S.] 14-27.5.” The supreme court, however, found the evidence sufficient. First, it noted, there was evidence that the victim was mentally disabled. The victim had an IQ of 61, was enrolled in special education classes, a teacher assessed her to be in the middle level of intellectually disabled students, and she required assistance to function in society. Second, the victim’s condition rendered her substantially incapable of resisting defendant’s advances. The victim didn’t know the real reason why the defendant asked her to come into another room, his initial acts of touching scared her because she didn’t know what he was going to do, she was shocked when he exposed himself, she was frightened when he forced her to perform fellatio and when she raised her head to stop, he forced it back down to his penis. Finally, there was evidence that the defendant knew or reasonably should have known about the victim’s disability. Specifically, his wife testified that she had discussed the victim’s condition with the defendant. The court emphasized that “expert testimony is not necessarily required to establish the extent of a victim’s mental capacity to consent to sexual acts when a defendant is charged with second-degree sexual offense pursuant to section 14-27.5.” (2) Reversing the court of appeals, the court held that the State presented sufficient evidence of crime against nature. The defendant conceded knowing that the victim was 17 years old. For the reasons discussed above, the court concluded that there was sufficient evidence that the victim’s conditions rendered her substantially incapable of resisting the defendant’s advances. All of this evidence indicates that the sexual acts were not consensual. In addition, the court noted, the record suggests that the acts were coercive, specifically pointing to the defendant’s conduct of forcing the victim’s head to his penis. The court emphasized that “expert testimony is not necessarily required to establish the extent of a victim’s mental capacity to consent to sexual acts when a defendant is charged with . . . crime against nature.”

In Re A.W., 209 N.C. App. 596 (Feb. 15, 2011)

The evidence was insufficient to sustain an adjudication of delinquency based on a violation of G.S. 14-27.5 (second-degree sexual offense). On appeal, the State conceded that there was no evidence that the victim was mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.

In a sexual offense case, there was sufficient evidence that the victim, an adult with 58 I.Q., was mentally disabled and that the defendant knew or should reasonably have known this. (1) Because the parties agreed that the victim was capable of appraising the nature of his conduct and of communicating an unwillingness to submit to a sexual act (he told the defendant he did not want to do the act), the issue on the mentally disabled element was whether the victim was substantially capable of resisting a sexual act. The victim was mildly mentally retarded. He had difficulty expressing himself verbally, was able to read very simple words and solve very simple math problems, and had difficulty answering questions about social abilities and daily tasks. He needed daily assistance with cooking and personal hygiene. Notwithstanding the victim’s communication of his unwillingness to receive oral sex, the defendant completed the sexual act, allowing an inference that the victim was unable to resist. (2) There was sufficient evidence that the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was mentally disabled. An officer testified that within three minutes of talking with the victim, it was obvious that he had some deficits. By contrast, the defendant appeared normal and healthy. While the defendant had a driver’s license, held regular jobs, took care of the victim’s mother, could connect a VCR, and could read “somewhat,” the victim could not drive, never held a regular job, could cook only in a microwave, had to be reminded to brush his teeth, did not know how to connect a VCR, and could not read. Moreover, the defendant had sufficient opportunity to get to know the victim, having dated the victim’s mother for thirteen years and having spent many nights at the mother’s house, where the victim lived.

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