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., 09/26/2021
E.g., 09/26/2021

(1) The evidence was insufficient to support a conviction under G.S. 14-208.18(a)(1), for being a sex offender on the premises of a daycare. The defendant was seen in a parking lot of a strip mall containing a daycare, other businesses, and a restaurant. Next-door to the daycare was a hair salon; next to the hair salon was a tax business. The three businesses shared a single building as well as a common parking lot. A restaurant in a separate, freestanding building shared the same parking lot. None of the spaces in the parking lot were specifically reserved or marked as intended for the daycare. The daycare, including its playground area, was surrounded by a chain-link fence. The court agreed with the defendant that the State failed to present sufficient evidence that the shared parking lot was part of the premises of the daycare. It stated: “[T]he shared parking lot is located on premises that are not intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors. Therefore, we conclude that a parking lot shared with other businesses (especially with no designation(s) that certain spaces “belong” to a particular business) cannot constitute “premises” as set forth in subsection (a)(1) of the statute.” (2) The defendant’s guilty plea to unlawfully being within 300 feet of a daycare must be vacated in light of a Fourth Circuit’s decision holding G.S. 14-208.18(a)(2) to be unconstitutional. The defendant was indicted and pled guilty to violating G.S. 14-208.18(a)(2), which prohibits certain persons from being within 300 feet a location intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors. While his direct appeal was pending, the Fourth Circuit held that statute to be unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First Amendment. Thus the conviction must be vacated.

(1) In a case involving charges under G.S. 14-208.18(a) (sex offender being present at a location used by minors, here a church preschool), where the State was required to prove (in part) that the defendant was required to register as a sex offender and was so required because of a conviction for an offense where the victim was less than 16 years old, the age of the victim was a factual question to which the defendant could stipulate. (2) The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss, which had asserted that the State failed to produce substantial evidence that the defendant knew that a preschool existed on the church premises. The evidence showed that the church advertised the preschool with flyers throughout the community, on its website, and with signs around the church. Additionally, the entrance to the church office, where defendant met with the pastor, was also the entrance to the nursery and had a sign explicitly stating the word “nursery.” The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State was required to show that he should have known children were actually on the premises at the exact time when he was there. It reasoned: “[T]he actual presence of children on the premises is not an element of the crime, and the State needed only to demonstrate that defendant was ‘knowingly’ ‘[w]ithin 300 feet of any location intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors when the place is located on premises that are not intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors’ whether the minors were or were not actually present at the time.” (3) The court rejected the defendant’s facial overbreadth challenge to the statute reasoning that because his argument was not based on First Amendment rights, he lacked standing to assert the challenge. (4) The court rejected the defendant’s argument that G.S. 14-208.18(a) was unconstitutionally vague as applied to him, stating: “[G.S.] 14-208.18(a)(2) may be many things, but it is not vague.”

The trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge that the defendant was a registered sex offender unlawfully on premises used by minors in violation of G.S. 14-208.18(a). The statute prohibits registered sex offenders from being “[w]ithin 300 feet of any location intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors when the place is located on premises that are not intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors[.]” The charges arose out of the defendant’s presence at a public park, specifically, sitting on a bench within the premises of the park and in close proximity to the park’s batting cage and ball field. The court agreed with the defendant that the State failed to present substantial evidence that the batting cages and ball fields constituted locations that were primarily intended for use by minors. At most, the State’s evidence established that these places were sometimes used by minors.

(1) G.S. 14-208.18(a)(1)-(3) creates three separate and distinct criminal offenses. (2) Although the defendant did not have standing to assert that G.S. 14-208.18(a)(3) was facially invalid, he had standing to raise an as applied challenge. (3) G.S. 14-208.18(a)(3), which prohibits a sex offender from being “at any place” where minors gather for regularly scheduled programs, was unconstitutionally vague as applied to the defendant. The defendant’s two charges arose from his presence at two public parks. The State alleged that on one occasion he was “out kind of close to the parking lot area or that little dirt road area[,]” between the ballpark and the road and on the second was at an “adult softball field” adjacent to a “tee ball” field. The court found that on these facts, the portion of G.S. 14-208.18(a)(3), prohibiting presence “at any place,” was unconstitutionally vague as applied to the defendant because it fails to give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited, and it fails to provide explicit standards for those who apply the law. (4) The trial court lacked jurisdiction to rule that G.S. 14-208.18(a)(2) was unconstitutional where the defendant only was charged with a violation of G.S. 14-208.18(a)(3) and those provisions were severable.

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