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., 09/18/2021
E.g., 09/18/2021

Where the trial court submitted an instruction on automatism as a defense to a charge of felony child abuse, it was not required to instruct the jury on lesser included child abuse offenses. Automatism is a complete defense to a criminal charge and did not render any of the elements of felonious child abuse in conflict. 

The trial court did not commit plain error by instructing the jury that the defendant had the burden of persuasion to prove the defense of automatism. Automatism is an affirmative defense, and the burden is on the defendant to prove its existence to the jury.

In an impaired driving case, the trial court did not err by declining to instruct on automatism or unconsciousness. The defendant asserted that even though unconsciousness through voluntary consumption of alcohol or drugs does not support an instruction as to automatism or unconsciousness, his unconsciousness could have been the result of the effects of voluntary consumption of alcohol combined with the effects of Alprazolam, a drug that he had been prescribed to control his panic attacks. The court concluded that there was no evidence that the defendant’s consumption of alcohol or his medication was involuntary.  

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