State v. Burgess, 216 N.C. App. 54 (Sept. 20, 2011)

The trial court erred by sentencing the defendant as a level IV offender when the State failed to present sufficient evidence establishing that out-of-state offenses were substantially similar to North Carolina offenses. The State presented printed copies of out-of-state statutes purportedly serving as the basis for the out-of-state convictions. However, the State’s worksheet did not identify the out-of-state crimes by statute number and instead used brief and non-specific descriptions that could arguably describe more than one crime, making it unclear whether the statutes presented were the basis for the defendant’s convictions. Also, the State presented 2008 versions of statutes when the defendant’s convictions were from 1993 and 1994, and there was no evidence that the statutes were unchanged. Finally, the trial erred by accepting the classification of the defendant’s out-of-state offenses without comparing the elements of those offenses to the elements of the North Carolina offenses the State contended were substantially similar.