State v. Graham, 379 N.C. 75, 2021-NCSC-125 (Oct. 29, 2021)

The Court of Appeals properly applied the comparative elements test of State v. Sanders, 367 N.C. 716 (2014) in affirming the trial court’s consideration of the defendant’s Georgia conviction for statutory rape as equivalent to a North Carolina Class B1 felony for purposes of calculating the defendant’s PRL for sentencing.  Comparing the elements of the Georgia statutory rape offense with the elements of G.S. 14-27.25, the Court found the offenses substantially similar despite variations in the states’ punishment schemes based on the ages of the offender and the victim.  

Justice Earls, joined by Justice Ervin, dissented, expressing the view that the majority misapplied Sanders and that the offenses were not substantially similar because the Georgia statute “indisputably encompasses conduct which is not a Class B1 felony in North Carolina.”  Justice Earls explained that, at the time of the defendant’s Georgia offense, a person who was 18 years old who had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old would have violated the Georgia statute at issue but would not have violated any North Carolina statute creating a Class B1 felony.