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., 09/25/2021
E.g., 09/25/2021
State v. Blow, 368 N.C. 348 (Sept. 25, 2015)

For the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion, the court reversed the opinion below, State v. Blow, 237 N.C. App. 158 (Nov. 4, 2014). In this child sexual assault case in which the defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree rape, the court of appeals had held that the trial court erred by failing to dismiss one of the rape charges. The court of appeals agreed with the defendant that because the victim testified that the defendant inserted his penis into her vagina “a couple” of times, without identifying more than two acts of penetration, the State failed to present substantial evidence of three counts of rape. The court of appeals found that the defendant’s admission to three instances of “sex” with the victim was not an admission of vaginal intercourse because the defendant openly admitted to performing oral sex and other acts on the victim but denied penetrating her vagina with his penis. The dissenting judge believed that the State presented substantial evidence that was sufficient, if believed, to support the jury’s decision to convict of three counts of first degree rape. The dissenting judge agreed with the majority that the victim’s testimony about penetration “a couple” of times would have been insufficient to convict the defendant of three counts, but noted that the record contains other evidence, including the defendant’s admission that he “had sex” with the victim “about three times.”

State v. Banks, 367 N.C. 652 (Dec. 19, 2014)

Because the defendant was properly convicted and sentenced for both statutory rape and second-degree rape when the convictions were based on a single act of sexual intercourse, counsel was not ineffective by failing to make a double jeopardy objection. The defendant was convicted of statutory rape of a 15-year-old and second-degree rape of a mentally disabled person for engaging in a single act of vaginal intercourse with the victim, who suffers from various mental disorders and is mildly to moderately mentally disabled. At the time, the defendant was 29 years old and the victim was 15. The court concluded that although based on the same act, the two offenses are separate and distinct under the Blockburger “same offense” test because each requires proof of an element that the other does not. Specifically, statutory rape involves an age component and second-degree rape involves the act of intercourse with a victim who suffers from a mental disability or mental incapacity. It continued:

Given the elements of second-degree rape and statutory rape, it is clear that the legislature intended to separately punish the act of intercourse with a victim who, because of her age, is unable to consent to the act, and the act of intercourse with a victim who, because of a mental disability or mental incapacity, is unable to consent to the act. . . .

Because it is the General Assembly’s intent for defendants to be separately punished for a violation of the second-degree rape and statutory rape statutes arising from a single act of sexual intercourse when the elements of each offense are satisfied, defendant’s argument that he was prejudiced by counsel’s failure to raise the argument of double jeopardy would fail. We therefore conclude that defendant was not prejudiced.

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss 33 counts of statutory rape, two counts of statutory sex offense, and 17 counts of indecent liberties as to victim F.H. At trial, the victim testified to sexual contact during her relationship with the defendant; she stated that she and the defendant had vaginal intercourse at least once a week beginning the day they met, and that she performed oral sex before, during, and after each occurrence of sexual intercourse. Two additional witnesses testified to observing the defendant and the victim have sexual intercourse during this time, one of whom also testified to observing oral sex. The defendant asserted that because the State failed to provide a specific number of times that the two had sexual intercourse and oral sex and how many times the defendant touched the victim in an immoral way, the total number of counts is not supported and his motion to dismiss should have been granted. The court disagreed, concluding that although the victim did not explicitly state the specific number of times that the two had sexual relations, a reasonable jury could find the evidence sufficient to support an inference for the number of counts at issue. Specifically, the victim testified that she and the defendant had sexual intercourse at least once a week for span of seventy-one weeks.

The trial court did not err by sentencing the defendant for two crimes—statutory rape and incest—arising out of the same transaction. The two offenses are not the same under the Blockburger test; each has an element not included in the other.

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