State v. White, 372 N.C. 248 (May. 10, 2019)

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 805 S.E.2d 563 (2017) in this child sex case, the court held that an indictment identifying the alleged victim only as “Victim #1” is facially invalid. Although the arrest warrant and the original indictment identified the victim by her full name, a superseding indictment charging the defendant with sexual offense with a child by an adult stated that he engaged in a sexual act with “Victim #1, a child who was under the age of 13 years, namely 7 years old.” The defendant was found guilty and appealed. The Supreme Court found G.S. 15-144.2(b) to be clear and unambiguous: it requires that the child be named in the indictment. In common understanding, to name someone is to identify that person in a way that is unique to that individual and enables others to distinguish between the named person and all other people. The phrase “Victim #1” does not distinguish this victim from other children or victims. The court went on to clarify that facial validity of an indictment is determined by evaluating only the allegations in the criminal pleading; it rejected the notion that a court may supplement the allegations in an indictment by referring to extrinsic evidence.