State v. Edgerton, 266 N.C.App. 521, 832 S.E.2d 249 (Aug. 6, 2019)

In this habitual larceny case where the defendant was sentenced as a habitual felon, the defendant did not establish that his trial counsel did not have authority to stipulate to the prior convictions used to elevate his charge to habitual larceny.  Noting that in other contexts it had expressly rejected attempts to analogize counsel’s stipulation of a prior conviction to counsel’s entry of a guilty plea or admission of a defendant’s guilt to a jury, the latter being decisions which must be made exclusively by the defendant, the court likewise rejected the defendant’s analogy in this case.  Citing a prior decision, the court explained that a defendant’s attorney may stipulate to an element of a charged crime and that an attorney is presumed to have the authority to act on behalf of his or her client during trial, including while stipulating to elements.  The record in this case did not show that the defendant’s attorney acted without his authority with regard to the stipulation.