State v. Brown, ___ N.C. App. ___, 2021–NCCOA–531 (Oct. 5, 2021)

The defendant in this case was on supervised probation for a conviction of possession with intent to sell or deliver methamphetamine. The defendant’s probation officer filed a violation report, alleging that the defendant had absconded from supervision and committed several other violations. The defendant waived counsel and testified at the hearing held on the violation; he admitted to absconding and committing the other violations, but also maintained that he had given his current address to his probation officer. The trial court found that the defendant had absconded and committed the other alleged violations, revoked his probation, and activated his sentence. The defendant filed a handwritten notice of appeal.

The appellate court first held that the notice of appeal was defective, but granted discretionary review and addressed the merits. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the state presented insufficient evidence of absconding, because the defendant admitted to it in his testimony and thereby waived the requirement that the state present sufficient evidence of the violation. Citing State v. Sellers, 185 N.C. App. 726 (2007), the court held that “when a defendant admits to willfully violating a condition of his or her probation in courtthe State does not need to present evidence to support the violations.” Defendant’s arguments that he did not understand the legal definition of absconding, had provided his probation officer with an address, and that the trial court should have conducted a more thorough examination of his admission, were unavailing given that the defendant “unequivocally and repeatedly admitted that he had absconded.” The court affirmed the revocation based on absconding, but remanded the judgment to correct three clerical errors regarding the name of the underlying offense of conviction, the total number of alleged violations, and an incorrect indication on the judgment form that the other violations besides absconding would also support revocation. The latter was deemed a clerical error because the transcript clearly indicated that the trial court’s revocation order was properly based only on the absconding violation, in accordance with G.S. 15A-1344(d2).