State v. Faulkner, 250 N.C.App. 412, 792 S.E.2d 836 (Nov. 15, 2016)

Because the trial court properly conducted the inquiry required by G.S. 15A-1242, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that his waiver of counsel, in connection with a probation violation hearing, was not knowing and voluntary. In addition to finding that the trial court’s colloquy with the defendant established that the waiver was knowing and voluntary, the court noted that its conclusion was consistent with G.S. 7A-457(a). That provision states that a waiver of counsel shall be effective only if the court finds that the indigent person acted with “full awareness of his rights and of the consequences of the waiver,” and that in making such a finding the court must consider among other things the person’s age, education, familiarity with the English language, mental condition and complexity of the crime charged. Here, the defendant was 23 years old, spoke English, had a GED degree, had attended college for one semester, and had no mental defects of record; additionally, there were no factual or legal complexities associated with the probation violation. The defendant described himself as a “Moorish National” and a “sovereign citizen.” The court rejected the defendant’s argument that certain responses to the judge’s statements during the waiver colloquy indicated that the waiver was not knowing and voluntary. The court noted that a defendant’s contention that he does not understand the proceedings is a common aspect of a sovereign citizen defense.