State v. Geter, 2022-NCSC-137, ___ N.C. ___ (Dec. 16, 2022)

In this Buncombe County case, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision finding no error with the trial court’s revocation of defendant’s probation over a year after the end of the probation term.

In January of 2017, the Asheville Police Department executed a search warrant of defendant’s residence, recovering marijuana, a digital scale, a firearm, and cash, including $40 used in a previous controlled buy of narcotics from defendant. At the time of the search warrant, defendant was already on supervised probation. Defendant was subsequently charged with possession of marijuana and related drug offenses and possessing a firearm by a felon. Defendant’s probation officer prepared violation reports identifying defendant’s offenses while on probation and filed them in February of 2018, more than two weeks before defendant’s probation expired on February 28, 2018. Although defendant successfully filed a motion to suppress the results of the search warrant, leading to the state dismissing the charges against him, the probation violations reached the trial court in April of 2019. The trial court found that defendant committed a new criminal offense while on probation and revoked defendant’s probation.

The Supreme Court first considered whether the trial court had jurisdiction to revoke defendant’s probation, examining the question de novo. The three requirements of G.S. 15A-1344(f) determine if a trial court has jurisdiction to revoke a defendant’s probation after it has expired; here the court found that all three were satisfied, but examined the adequacy of the “good cause shown and stated” to satisfy the requirement in (f)(3). Slip Op. at 10. The court turned to similar uses of “good cause” such as continuance motions, and examined related precedent to find that the trial court’s determination was not an abuse of discretion and was justified under the circumstances. The court also rejected defendant’s argument that the state must show “reasonable efforts” to schedule the probation revocation hearing at an earlier time, explaining the caselaw referenced by defendant examined a version of G.S. 15A-1344(f) no longer in effect. Id. at 19.

Justice Earls, joined by Justice Hudson, dissented and would have found that the trial court did not possess good cause to revoke defendant’s probation. Id. at 21.