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., 09/25/2021
E.g., 09/25/2021

In this driving while license revoked case, because the defendant introduced evidence that he did not receive actual notice from the DMV that his license was revoked, the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury that it could find the defendant guilty only if he had knowledge of his revocation. The State’s evidence included copies of four dated letters from the DMV addressed to the defendant stating that his license had been suspended. However, the defendant testified that he never received any of those letters and was unaware that his license had been suspended. He suggested that his father might have received and opened the letters because he lived at the same address as the defendant. At trial, the defendant requested the instruction that to be guilty he must have had knowledge of the revocation. The trial court denied this request. To prove driving while license revoked, the State must prove that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the revocation. If the State presents evidence that the DMV mailed notice of the defendant’s license revocation to the address on file for the defendant at least four days prior to the incident, there is a prima facie presumption that the defendant received the notice. However the defendant can rebut the presumption. If the defendant presents some evidence that he or she did not receive the notice or some other evidence sufficient to raise the issue, the trial court must instruct the jury that guilty knowledge is necessary for conviction. Here, the defendant testified that he did not receive the notice and offered an explanation as to why it may not have reached him. He was thus entitled to an instruction that he must have knowledge of the revocation. The court went on to hold that the error was prejudicial.

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