State v. Gordon, 285 N.C. App. 191 (Aug. 16, 2022)

In this Forsyth County case, defendant appealed the imposition of lifetime satellite-based monitoring (SBM) after his classification as an aggravated offender for convictions for rape, indecent liberties with a child, assault by strangulation, and kidnapping. The Court of Appeals affirmed the imposition of lifetime SBM.

This matter first came before the Court of Appeals in 2018, after defendant appealed the trial court’s imposition of lifetime SBM. After the Court of Appeals’ decision, the North Carolina Supreme Court granted discretionary review based on the State’s petition, and remanded the case in 2019, directing the court to consider State v. Grady (Grady III), 372 N.C. 509 (2019). In 2020, the Court of Appeals issued its second opinion. The Supreme Court again granted discretionary review based on State’s petition, and remanded the case in 2021, directing the court to consider State v. Hilton, 378 N.C. 692 (2021), and State v. Strudwick, 379 N.C. 94 (2021), as well as the General Assembly’s 2021 amendments to the SBM program.

In the current opinion, the Court of Appeals considered the new caselaw and statutory requirements applicable to the imposition of defendant’s lifetime SBM. Applying Hilton, the court explained that lifetime SBM does not represent an unreasonable search for aggravated offenders like defendant. Slip Op. at ¶9. Additionally, the court referenced Strudwick when establishing that the State does not have to demonstrate the reasonableness of lifetime SBM after defendant’s release from prison at some date in the future, only the reasonableness of the imposition in the present. Slip Op. at ¶10. The court then performed a Fourth Amendment analysis in light of the changes to the SBM program and caselaw, determining that “the search of Defendant as imposed is reasonable and therefore withstands Fourth Amendment scrutiny.” Slip Op. at ¶21.