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., 06/29/2024
E.g., 06/29/2024

In this Wayne County case, defendant appealed the order denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to felony possession of cocaine. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order.

In January of 2005, defendant was indicted for felony possession of cocaine; subsequently defendant “entered a plea of guilty to felony possession of cocaine in order to receive a conditional discharge pursuant to [G.S.] 90-96.” Slip Op. at 2. In February of 2006, the trial court determined defendant had satisfied the conditions imposed for a conditional discharge and dismissed the charges under G.S. 90-96. During these events, defendant was an undocumented immigrant married to an American citizen and father to one child through the marriage. In 2021, defendant was detained by immigration officials and sent to a detention center in Georgia, where he was held without bond as a result of his guilty plea to a felony in 2005. In January of 2022 defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea to the possession charge, arguing he was “confused” and did not know the guilty plea would continue to constitute a conviction for federal immigration purposes. Id. at 3. After holding a hearing, the trial court denied defendant’s motion, treating it as a motion for appropriate relief (MAR).

The Court of Appeals first established that the trial court was correct in interpreting the motion as a MAR, explaining the dismissal of charges in 2006 was “final judgment” in the matter, and defendant’s subsequent motion was “a post-sentence MAR requiring Defendant to show manifest injustice in order to withdraw his guilty plea.” Id. at 9. The court then noted the six factors recognized in North Carolina case law justifying withdrawal of a plea, and that defendant argued “misunderstanding the consequences of the guilty plea, hasty entry, confusion, and coercion.” 10. Here, while the court expressed sympathy to defendant’s situation, it explained that he had not shown manifest injustice, as the federal immigration consequences were collateral, not direct consequences of entering his plea that he failed to understand. Sumarizing the situation, the court stated “[w]hile Defendant may now regret the consequences of his guilty plea in light of its implications under federal law, his remorse does not reflect a misunderstanding of the guilty plea at the time he entered into it.” Id. at 15.


The defendant’s assertions in his MAR, filed more than seven years after expiration of the appeal period, that his plea was invalid because the trial court failed to follow the procedural requirements of G.S. 15A-1023 and -1024 were precluded by G.S. 15A-1027 (“Noncompliance with the procedures of this Article may not be a basis for review of a conviction after the appeal period for the conviction has expired.”).

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