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.


Navigate using the table of contents to the left or by using the search box below. Use quotations for an exact phrase search. A search for multiple terms without quotations functions as an “or” search. Not sure where to start? The 5 minute video tutorial offers a guided tour of main features – Launch Tutorial (opens in new tab).

E.g., 06/14/2024
E.g., 06/14/2024

In this Cleveland County case, defendant petitioned for a writ of certiorari, arguing error in sentencing him at an inflated prior record level. The State conceded the error. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment and remanded for resentencing with the appropriate prior record level.

In March of 2021, a jury convicted defendant of two charges related to controlled substances; after the verdict but before sentencing, defendant entered a plea agreement to two additional charges and attaining habitual felon status. During the sentencing hearing, the State submitted a worksheet showing sixteen points assigned to defendant based on his seven prior misdemeanors and three prior felonies, along with defendant being on probation at the time of the offenses. The court sentenced defendant as a level V offender. 

Taking up defendant’s argument, the Court of Appeals explained that the trial court improperly calculated defendant’s prior record level, which should have been level IV. The State conceded that defendant was improperly assigned additional points based on previous convictions that should have been excluded. The court walked through the appropriate calculation, noting that the highest total that could be assigned to defendant was thirteen points, justifying level IV. As a result, the court remanded for resentencing. 

The trial court erred in calculating the defendant’s prior record level points. Specifically, it made an arithmetic error, finding that the points totaled 18 when in fact they totaled 17. This error lead the trial court to sentence the defendant as a prior record level VI offender instead of as a record level V offender. The State conceded the mathematical error but argued the error was harmless. The court agreed, noting that it has repeatedly held that an erroneous prior record level calculation does not prejudice the defendant if the trial court’s sentence is within the presumptive range at the correct level, as it was here.

Show Table of Contents