State v. Chisholm, COA22-659, ___ N.C. App. ___ (May. 2, 2023)

In this Cabarrus County case, defendant appealed her convictions for felony speeding to elude arrest, arguing error in denial of her motion to dismiss for insufficient evidence of speeding in excess of 15 mph over the speed limit. The Court of Appeals found no error. 

In September of 2018, defendant was pulled over by officers for an expired plate. During the traffic stop, defendant failed to provide a license or registration, and gave the officers an incorrect name, but the officers determined her correct name through a search on their computer terminal. The officers asked defendant to confirm her name 20-30 times, but she refused; after this exchange, one of the officers struck the window attempting to remove defendant from the vehicle, and at that point defendant sped off from the traffic stop. The officers pursued defendant, and although she initially eluded them by driving at a high rate of speed, she eventually crashed and was discovered by the officers. Two aggravating factors elevated defendant’s offense to a felony, (1) speeding in excess of 15 mph over the speed limit, and (2) driving with a revoked license. 

The only issue on appeal was whether sufficient evidence was admitted to show speeding in excess of 15 mph over the speed limit, as defendant stipulated that her license was revoked at the time of the incident. The Court of Appeals examined three elements, whether the prosecution admitted sufficient evidence of: (1) the posted speed limit on the relevant highway, (2) defendant’s speed eluding arrest, and (3) the officers’ precise speed in pursuit of defendant. Examining (1), the court explained that testimony from one of the officers regarding the posted speed limit established substantial evidence that the limit was 45 mph. Turning to (2), the court noted that testimony from one of the officers regarding an estimated speed for the defendant was adequate to support the allegation that defendant was traveling in excess of 15 mph over the speed limit. The court found the officer had a “reasonable opportunity” to observe the speed of defendant’s vehicle, and any question about the credibility of the officer’s testimony was one for the jury, not a matter of admissibility. Slip Op. at 13-14. Finally, considering (3), the court found that while no direct testimony established the speed of the officers in pursuit, sufficient evidence of guilt was present, including a photograph of the serious wreck of defendant’s car, and the testimony offered by the officer regarding her excessive speed. As a result, the court found sufficient evidence to support each element of the offense and no error.