State v. Ellis, 368 N.C. 342 (Sept. 25, 2015)

Reversing the opinion below, State v. Ellis, __ N.C. App. __, 763 S.E.2d 574 (Oct. 7, 2014), the court held that an information charging injury to personal property was not fatally flawed. The information alleged the victims as: “North Carolina State University (NCSU) and NCSU High Voltage Distribution.” The court noted that the defendant did not dispute that North Carolina State University is expressly authorized to own property by statute, G.S. 116-3, “and is, for that reason, an entity inherently capable of owning property.” Rather, the defendant argued that the information was defective because “NCSU High Voltage Distribution” was not alleged to be an entity capable of owning property. The court held: “Assuming, without deciding, that the … information did not adequately allege that ‘NCSU High Voltage Distribution’ was an entity capable of owning property, that fact does not render the relevant count facially defective.” In so holding the court rejected the defendant’s argument that when a criminal pleading charging injury to personal property lists two entities as property owners, both must be adequately alleged to be capable of owning property. The court continued:

[A] criminal pleading purporting to charge the commission of a property-related crime like injury to personal property is not facially invalid as long as that criminal pleading adequately alleges the existence of at least one victim that was capable of owning property, even if the same criminal pleading lists additional victims who were not alleged to have been capable of owning property as well.