State v. Barnett, 369 N.C. 298 (Dec. 21, 2016)

If supported by appropriate findings as required by the statute, the trial court has authority to enter a “Convicted Sex Offender Permanent No Contact Order” under G.S. 15A-1340.50 prohibiting the defendant from any interaction with a rape victim’s minor children. The defendant was convicted of a number of offenses including attempted second-degree rape. At sentencing the trial court entered a no contact order under the statute, stating that the order included the victim’s minor children. The Court of Appeals vacated the no contact order and remanded for the trial court to remove mention of individuals other than the victim, concluding that the trial court lacked authority to enter a no contact order including persons who were not victims of the sex offense. On the State’s petition for discretionary review, the court agreed that the statute protects victims of sex offense and not third parties and that its catchall provision cannot be read to expand the statute’s reach. However, it held that the statute can authorize protection for the victim from indirect contact by the defendant to the victim’s family or friends when appropriate findings are made. It specified: “By ‘appropriate findings,’ we mean findings indicating that the defendant’s contact with specific individuals would constitute indirect engagement of any of the actions prohibited in subsections (f)(1) through (f)(7) [of the statute].” The court remanded for further proceedings.