Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium


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., 07/22/2024
E.g., 07/22/2024

In this Warren County case, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision finding that the second of defendant’s two kidnapping charges lacked support in the record and should have been dismissed because the rape supporting the kidnapping charge had already concluded before the events of the second kidnapping.

The two kidnapping charges against defendant arose from the rape of an 80-year-old woman in 2007. Defendant, posing as a salesman, forced his way into the victim’s home, robbed her of her cash, forced her from the kitchen into a bedroom, raped her, then tied her up and put her in a closet located in a second bedroom. The basis for the kidnapping charge at issue on appeal was tying up the victim and moving her from the bedroom where the rape occurred to the second bedroom closet. Defendant moved at trial to dismiss the charges for insufficiency of the evidence, and argued that there was no evidence in the record showing the second kidnapping occurred to facilitate the rape.

The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeal majority that the record did not support the second kidnapping conviction. The court explored G.S. 14-39 and the relevant precedent regarding kidnapping, explaining that kidnapping is a specific intent crime and the state must allege one of the ten purposes listed in the statute and prove at least one of them at trial to support the conviction. Here, the state alleged “that defendant had moved the victim to the closet in the second bedroom for the purpose of facilitating the commission of rape.” Slip Op. at 30. At trial, the evidence showed that defendant moved the victim to the second bedroom “after he had raped her, with nothing that defendant did during that process having made it any easier to have committed the actual rape.” Id. Because the state only alleged that defendant moved the victim for purposes of facilitating the rape, the court found that the second conviction was not supported by the evidence in the record. The court also rejected the state’s arguments that State v. Hall, 305 N.C. 77 (1982) supported interpreting the crime as ongoing, overruling the portions of that opinion that would support interpreting the crime as ongoing. Slip Op. at 42.

Chief Justice Newby, joined by Justice Berger, dissented and would have allowed the second kidnapping conviction to stand. Id. at 45. 

State v. Huss, 367 N.C. 162 (Nov. 8, 2013)

The court per curiam, with an equally divided court, affirmed the decision below, State v. Huss, 223 N.C. App. 480 (2012). That decision thus is left undisturbed but without precedential value. In this case, involving charges of second-degree sexual offense and second-degree rape, the court of appeals had held that the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The State proceeded on a theory that the victim was physically helpless. The facts showed that the defendant, a martial arts instructor, bound the victim’s hands behind her back and engaged in sexual activity with her. The statute defines the term physically helpless to mean a victim who either is unconscious or is physically unable to resist the sexual act. Here, the victim was not unconscious. Thus, the only issue was whether she was unable to resist the sexual act. The court of appeals began by rejecting the defendant’s argument that this category applies only to victims who suffer from some permanent physical disability or condition, instead concluding that factors other than physical disability could render a victim unable to resist the sexual act. However, it found that no such evidence existed in this case. The State had argued that the fact that the defendant was a skilled fighter and outweighed the victim supported the conclusion that the victim was physically helpless. The court of appeals rejected this argument, concluding that the relevant analysis focuses on “attributes unique and personal of the victim.” Similarly, the court of appeals rejected the State’s argument that the fact that the defendant pinned the victim in a submissive hold and tied her hands behind her back supported the conviction. It noted, however, that the evidence would have been sufficient under a theory of force. The defendant also was convicted of kidnapping the victim for the purpose of facilitating second-degree rape. The court of appeals reversed the kidnapping conviction on grounds that the State had proceeded under an improper theory of second-degree rape (the State proceeded on a theory that the victim was physically helpless when in fact force would have been the appropriate theory). The court of appeals concluded: “because the State proceeded under an improper theory of second-degree rape, we are unable to find that the State sufficiently proved the particular felonious intent alleged here.”

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