Mace v. North Carolina Department of Insurance, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Feb. 18, 2020)

The petitioner was found guilty of simple assault in a bench trial before a district court judge, who entered a prayer for judgment continued (PJC). In reliance on the advice of his attorney, the petitioner, an insurance agent, did not believe that he was required to report the PJC to the North Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI). The DOI found that the petitioner’s failure to report the PJC violated G.S. 58-2-69(c), which requires licensees to notify the DOI of criminal convictions and defines conviction as including “an adjudication of guilt, a plea of guilty, or a plea of nolo contendere.” Because of his reliance on the advice of counsel, the DOI imposed a $100 civil penalty instead of suspending or revoking the petitioner’s license. The petitioner appealed. Reviewing several previous decisions about the treatment of PJCs, the Court of Appeals recognized that a PJC constitutes an adjudication of guilt and upheld the DOI’s determination.