State v. Boyette, 2022-NCCOA-904, ___ N.C. App. ___ (Dec. 29, 2022)

In this Caldwell County case, the Court of Appeals denied the state’s motion to dismiss defendant’s appeal as untimely, but found no error with the trial court’s decision to revoke defendant’s probation for violations related to a search of his truck.

In May of 2020, defendant was pulled over after sheriff’s deputies observed him cross the center line while driving 55 mph in a 35 mph zone. During the traffic stop, the deputies determined that defendant was on probation for manufacturing methamphetamine and possessing stolen goods, and was subject to warrantless searches. The deputies searched defendant and his truck, finding a shotgun, smoking pipes and a baggie containing methamphetamine. Defendant’s probation officer filed violation reports with the trial court; the trial court subsequently revoked defendant’s probation and activated his sentences, leading to defendant’s appeal.

The Court of Appeals first reviewed the state’s motion to dismiss defendant’s appeal as untimely, applying State v. Oates, 366 N.C. 264 (2012), as controlling precedent for criminal appeals. Slip Op. at 7-8. The court explained that Rule of Appellate Procedure 4 requires an appeal to be filed either (1) orally at the time of trial, or (2) in writing within 14 days of the entry of the judgment or order. In the present case, the trial court announced its decision to revoke defendant’s probation on April 30, 2021, but did not enter an order until May 24, 2021, a delayed entry similar to the circumstances in Oates. Defendant filed a written notice of appeal on May 25, 2021, easily satisfying the 14-day requirement.

Turning to the substance of defendant’s appeal, the court noted that the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment protections and formal rules of evidence do not apply in a probation revocation hearing. Id. at 9. As a result, defendant’s arguments that the evidence obtained by searching his truck should have been suppressed were invalid, and the trial court did not err by using this evidence as the basis for revocation of his probation.

Judge Jackson concurred in part A, the denial of state’s motion to dismiss, but concurred only in the result as to part B, the evidence found in defendant’s truck. Id. at 10.