State v. Marino, ___ N.C. App. ___, 828 S.E.2d 689 (May. 21, 2019)

In this drug trafficking case, G.S. 15A-1331.2 did not deprive the trial court of jurisdiction to enter judgment after a PJC. The defendant pled guilty pursuant to a plea arrangement that provided for a PJC to allow the defendant to provide testimony in another case. Approximately 19 months later, the State prayed for entry of judgment. After judgment was entered, the defendant unsuccessfully filed a motion for appropriate relief, asserting that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the sentence because G.S. 15A-1331.2 requires the trial court to enter final judgment on certain high-level felonies, such as the one at issue here, within 12 months of the PJC. The court noted that the issue was one of first impression. It noted that the trial court’s judgment unquestionably failed to comply with the statute, which provides that if the trial court enters a PJC for a class D felony, it must include a condition that the State pray for judgment within a specific period of time not to exceed 12 months. Here, the plea agreement contained no such provision and, approximately 19 months after the defendant’s conviction, the State prayed for judgment and judgment was entered. Analyzing the issue as one of legislative intent, the court determined although the PJC failed to comply with the statute, this did not constitute a jurisdictional issue. The court went on to conclude that the trial court’s delay in sentencing the defendant was not unreasonable nor was the defendant prejudiced by it.