State v. McSwain, ___ N.C. App. ___, 2021-NCCOA-216 (May. 18, 2021)

In this Cleveland County case, the defendant was convicted of forgery of an endorsement pursuant to G.S. 14-120, uttering a forged check pursuant to G.S. 14-120 and attaining habitual felon status pursuant to G.S. 14-7.1. (1) The defendant argued on appeal that the State failed to prove the falsity of the instrument. The Court of Appeals determined that the State presented substantial evidence to show that the defendant wrote and signed a check on the account of John McGinnis without McGinnis’s authority. The State’s evidence tended to show that the defendant wrote a check on McGinnis’s account weeks after his house and car were broken into. A driver’s license and phone number handwritten on the check were similar to defendant’s. The defendant falsely told the person to whom she wrote the check that McGinnis was her father and had given her permission to use the check. McGinnis was hospitalized when the check was written and had no children. Malcom Parker was the sole power of attorney for McGinnis and handled all of his financial matters.

(2) The trial court properly admitted a photocopy of the forged check pursuant to G.S. 8-97 to illustrate the testimony of the witness to whom the check had been provided. The Court found no indication that the photocopy was used as substantive evidence, and further concluded that the State put forth substantial evidence that the defendant had forged and uttered an instrument as defined by G.S. 14-119.