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., 06/21/2024
E.g., 06/21/2024

The evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant of unlawfully accessing a government computer in violation of G.S. 14-454.1. The case arose out of false information submitted by the defendant in connection with his work as a bail bondsman. On appeal the defendant first argued that the evidence did not establish that his actions were willful or without authorization. Here, although the defendant had authorization to use the computer system, the State presented evidence that he exceeded that authorization by inputting fraudulent information and that his actions were willful.

            The court went on to reject the defendant’s argument that there was insufficient evidence that he accessed a government computer. The defendant’s unique username and password were used to access the system and upload his monthly reports. Additionally his email was used to submit his reports. Thus, even if the court were to accept the defendant’s argument that he only transmitted information that was then uploaded by government personnel, the statute covers not only accessing but also causing a government computer to be accessed.

            Finally, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the statute was not intended to cover mere submission of information and that it required the defendant to have some actual interaction with the government computer. The court noted that the plain language of the statute includes accessing or causing a government computer to be accessed, “directly or indirectly.”

(1) The evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction under G.S. 14-454.1(a)(2) (unlawful to “willfully . . . access or cause to be accessed any government computer for the purpose of . . . [o]btaining property or services by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises”). The State alleged that the defendant, who worked for a private license plate agency, submitted false information into the State Title and Registration System (STARS) so that a car dealer whose dealer number was invalid could transfer title. The defendant admitted that she personally accessed STARS to make three transfers for the dealer, that she told a co-worker to run a fourth transaction in a similar fashion, and that she received payment for doing so. The court also found the evidence sufficient to support a conclusion that the defendant acted willfully. (2) In a case in which the defendant was charged with violations of G.S. 14-454.1(a)(2) and G.S. 14-454.1(b) (unlawful to “willfully and without authorization . . . accesses or causes to be accessed any government computer for any purpose other than those set forth in subsection (a)”) as to the same transaction, the indictment charging a violation of G.S. 14-454.1(b) was defective when it stated a purpose covered by G.S. 14-454.1(a)(2). The court concluded that the plain language of G.S. 14-454.1(b) requires that the purpose for accessing the computer must be one “other than those set forth” in subsection (a).

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