Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

About

This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

Instructions

Navigate using the table of contents to the left or by using the search box below. Use quotations for an exact phrase search. A search for multiple terms without quotations functions as an “or” search. Not sure where to start? The 5 minute video tutorial offers a guided tour of main features – Launch Tutorial (opens in new tab).

E.g., 06/18/2022
E.g., 06/18/2022
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In an assault on a female case, the State conceded that the trial court erred by sentencing the defendant to 24 months of supervised probation without making a specific finding, as required by G.S. 15A-1343.2(d), that a probationary period longer than 18 months was necessary.  The court...

In this first-degree murder case, the defendant challenged (1) the validity of a search warrant for his home; (2) the trial court’s refusal to suppress electronic monitoring data from a GPS unit the defendant was wearing at the time of the offense; (3) the trial court’s refusal to allow...

In the case of a defendant who committed a homicide when he or she was under 18, Miller and Montgomery do not require the sentencer to make a separate factual finding of permanent incorrigibility before sentencing the defendant to life without parole. In such a case, a discretionary sentencing...

In a per curiam decision, the Court determined that defense counsel’s performance in the punishment phase of a capital murder trial was deficient and remanded the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for that court to address the prejudice prong of a Strickland ineffective...

The Supreme Court reversed a Louisiana state court and held that the Sixth Amendment gives defendants a right to a unanimous jury verdict that applies to the states. The defendant was convicted of murder in 2016 based on a 10–2 jury verdict, which was a sufficient basis for conviction...

The petitioner appealed from his impaired driving conviction on the basis that the State violated the Fourth Amendment by withdrawing his blood while he was unconscious without a warrant following his arrest for impaired driving. A Wisconsin state statute permits such blood draws. The Wisconsin...

In a plurality opinion, a majority of the Court held that 18 U.S.C. § 3583(k) is unconstitutional.  The defendant Haymond was convicted by a jury of possessing child pornography in violation of federal law and was sentenced to a prison term of 38 months, followed by 10 years of supervised...

In this murder case resulting in a death sentence, the Court held that the trial court committed clear error in concluding that the State’s peremptory strike of a black prospective juror was not motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent.  The defendant Flowers, who is black,...

Citing the text of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, historical evidence, and “170 years of precedent,” the Court refused to overturn the “dual-sovereignty” doctrine and held that the defendant’s federal prosecution for unlawful possession of a handgun was not barred by...

The presumption of prejudice recognized in Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000), applies regardless of whether the defendant has signed an appeal waiver. Defendant Garza signed two plea agreements arising from charges brought by the State of Idaho. Each agreement included a...

The Court held that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is an “incorporated” protection applicable to the States under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Tyson Timbs pleaded guilty in Indiana state court to dealing in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft....

When a defendant agrees to have charges against him considered in two trials, he cannot later successfully argue that the second trial offends the Double Jeopardy Clause. Facing trial on charges of burglary, grand larceny, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, defendant Michael...

Under the Sixth Amendment, a defendant has the right to insist that defense counsel refrain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experienced-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty. The defendant was charged with three counts of...

In a per curiam decision in this capital murder case decided under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the Court held that the state court did not unreasonably apply the law when it determined that the defendant was competent to be executed. The defendant was sentenced to...

In a per curiam decision in a case decided under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the Court held that no decision from the Court clearly establishes that a state court must impose a lower, originally expected sentence when—after the defendant has pled guilty—the State...

By wrongly advising the defendant that a guilty plea to a drug charge would not result in deportation, counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) in connection with the defendant’s plea. After he was charged with possessing ecstasy with intent to distribute, the defendant feared...

Weaver v. Massachusetts, 582 U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 1899 (June 22, 2017)

In a case where the defendant failed to preserve a claim of structural error with respect to improper closure of the courtroom and raised it later in the context of an ineffective assistance claim, the Court held that the defendant was not relieved of his burden of establishing prejudice, which...

Evidence withheld by the Government was not material under Brady. In 1985, a group of defendants were tried together in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia for the kidnaping, armed robbery, and murder of Catherine Fuller. Long after their convictions became final, it emerged...

The Court held, in this federal habeas case, that the Alabama courts’ refusal to provide a capital murder defendant with expert mental health assistance was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. After the jury recommended that the defendant...

In a per curiam decision, the Court held that the Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling, holding that Virginia’s “geriatric release” provision satisfies Graham v. Florida was not an objectively unreasonable application of Graham. In 1999, the defendant, who was 16 years old at the...

Where a juror makes a clear statement indicating that he or she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defendant, the Sixth Amendment requires that the “no-impeachment rule” give way in order to permit the trial court to consider the evidence of the juror’s statement and...

In this Texas capital murder case, the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated when his lawyer introduced evidence from a psychologist that the defendant was statistically more likely to act violently because he is black. A Texas jury convicted the...

The issue-preclusion component of the Double Jeopardy Clause does not bar the Government from retrying the defendants after a jury has returned irreconcilably inconsistent verdicts of conviction and acquittal and the convictions are later vacated on appeal because of error in the judge’s...

In three consolidated cases the Court held that while a warrantless breath test of a motorist lawfully arrested for drunk driving is permissible as a search incident to arrest, a warrantless blood draw is not. It concluded: “Because breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests...

The Double Jeopardy Clause bars Puerto Rico and the United States from successively prosecuting a single person for the same conduct under equivalent criminal laws. Puerto Rican prosecutors indicted the defendant for illegally selling firearms in violation of the Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000....

The Court reversed this capital murder case, finding that the State’s “[t]wo peremptory strikes on the basis of race are two more than the Constitution allows.” The defendant was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in a Georgia court. Jury selection proceeded in two phases:...

The Sixth Amendment’s speedy trial guarantee does not apply to the sentencing phase of a criminal prosecution. After pleading guilty to bail-jumping, the defendant was jailed for over 14 months awaiting sentence on that conviction. The defendant argued that the 14-month gap between conviction...

The defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to secure counsel of choice was violated when the government, acting pursuant to 18 U. S. C. §1345, froze pretrial the defendant’s legitimate, untainted assets and thus prevented her from hiring counsel to defend her in the criminal case. Critical to the...

In this capital case, the prosecution’s failure to disclose material evidence violated the defendant’s due process rights. At trial the defendant unsuccessfully raised an alibi defense and was convicted. The case was before the Court after the defendant’s unsuccessful post-conviction Brady...

The Court reversed the state decision below which had held that the defendant’s lawyers were ineffective under Strickland. At the defendant’s 1995 murder trial, the State offered FBI Agent Peele as an expert witness on Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis (CBLA). Peele’s testimony linked a...

In this habeas corpus case, the Court reversed the Sixth Circuit, which had held that defense counsel provided per se ineffective assistance of counsel under United States v. Cronic, 466 U. S. 648 (1984), when he was briefly absent during testimony concerning other defendants. The Court...

(per curiam). Reversing the North Carolina courts, the Court held that under Jones and Jardines, satellite based monitoring for sex offenders constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. The Court stated: “a State … conducts a search when it attaches a device to a person’s body,...

Double jeopardy barred the State’s appeal of a trial court order dismissing charges for insufficiency of the evidence. After numerous continuances granted to the State because of its inability to procure its witnesses for trial, the defendant’s case was finally called for trial. When the trial...

Nothing in U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly establishes a rule that the Fifth Amendment requires a trial judge in a capital case to give the penalty phase jury an instruction that they should draw no adverse inferences from the defendant’s failure to testify. The Kentucky Supreme Court’s...

Defense counsel in a capital case rendered deficient performance when he made an “inexcusable mistake of law” causing him to employ an expert “that he himself deemed inadequate.” Counsel believed that he could only obtain $1,000 for expert assistance when in fact he could have sought court...

The Court overruled Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545 (2002), and held that any fact that increases a mandatory minimum sentence must be submitted to the jury. The defendant was charged with several federal offenses, including using or carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of...

The Court held that retroactive application of amended Federal Sentencing Guidelines to the defendant’s convictions violated the Ex Post Facto Clause. The defendant was convicted for conduct occurring in 1999 and 2000. At sentencing he argued that the Ex Post Facto Clause required that he be...

Evans v. Michigan, 568 U.S. 313 (Feb. 20, 2013)

When the trial court enters a directed verdict of acquittal based on a mistake of law the erroneous acquittal constitutes an acquittal for double jeopardy purposes barring further prosecution. After the State rested in an arson prosecution, the trial court entered a directed verdict of acquittal...

Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (June 25, 2012)

The Court held that the 8th Amendment prohibits a sentencing scheme that requires life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders.

The Court held that the Apprendi rule applies to fines. Thus, any fact that increases a defendant’s statutory maximum fine must be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Court held that the Apprendi rule applies to fines. Thus, any fact that increases a defendant’s statutory maximum fine must be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

Double Jeopardy did not bar retrying the defendant on charges of capital and first-degree murder. Before the jury concluded deliberations, it reported that it was unanimous against guilt on charges of capital and first-degree murder but was deadlocked on manslaughter and had not voted on...

Missouri v. Frye, 566 U.S. 133 (Mar. 21, 2012)

The Court held that a defense lawyer rendered ineffective assistance by allowing a plea offer by the prosecution to expire without advising the defendant of the offer or allowing him to consider it. The defendant was charged with felony driving with a revoked license, an offense carrying a...

Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 156 (Mar. 21, 2012)

The Court held that defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance by advising a defendant to reject a plea offer and it specified the appropriate remedy for the constitutional violation. The defendant was charged with assault with intent to murder, possession of a firearm by a felon,...

Smith v. Cain, 565 U.S. 73 (Jan. 10, 2012)

The Court reversed petitioner Smith’s conviction on grounds of a Brady violation. At Smith’s trial, a single witness, Larry Boatner, linked Smith to the crime. Boatner testified that Smith and two other gunmen entered a home, demanded money and drugs, and then began shooting, killing...

In a capital case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals improperly granted the defendant habeas relief on his claim of penalty-phase ineffective assistance of counsel. The defendant and two accomplices broke into a house at night, killing two men who interrupted the burglary. A jury convicted the...

The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, which had held that the state court unreasonably applied existing law when rejecting the defendant’s claim that his counsel was deficient by failing to present expert testimony on serology, pathology, and blood spatter patterns; the defendant had asserted...

Premo v. Moore, 562 U.S. 115 (Jan. 19, 2011)

The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, which had held that the state court unreasonably applied existing law when rejecting the defendant’s claim that counsel was ineffective by failing to file a motion to suppress the defendant’s confession to police before advising him to accept a plea offer....

Sears v. Upton, 561 U.S. 945 (June 29, 2010)

After the defendant was sentenced to death in state court, a state post-conviction court found that the defendant’s lawyer conducted a constitutionally inadequate penalty phase investigation that failed to uncover evidence of the defendant’s significant mental and psychological impairments....

The defendant was tried for various federal crimes in connection with the collapse of Enron. The Court held that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to trial by an impartial jury was not violated when the federal district court denied the defendant’s motion to change venue because of pretrial...

The defendant was tried for various federal crimes in connection with the collapse of Enron. The Court held that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to trial by an impartial jury was not violated when the federal district court denied the defendant’s motion to change venue because of pretrial...

The Court upheld the federal government’s power to civilly commit a mentally ill, sexually dangerous federal prisoner beyond the date the prisoner would otherwise be released from prison. For a more detailed discussion of this case, click here...

Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (May. 17, 2010)

The Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause does not permit a juvenile offender to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a non-homicide crime. For a more detailed discussion of this case, click...

Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766 (May. 3, 2010)

The Michigan Supreme Court’s decision concluding that the defendant’s double jeopardy rights were not violated by a second prosecution after a mistrial on grounds of jury deadlock was not an unreasonable application of federal law. The state high court had elaborated on the standard for manifest...

After pleading guilty to a charge of transportation of a large amount of marijuana, the defendant, a lawful permanent resident of the United States for more than 40 years, faced deportation. He challenged his plea, arguing that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to inform him...

Berghuis v. Smith, 559 U.S. 314 (Mar. 30, 2010)

The state supreme court did not unreasonably apply clearly established federal law with respect to the defendant’s claim that the method of jury selection violated his sixth amendment right to be tried by an impartial jury drawn from sources reflecting a fair cross-section of the community. The...

Thaler v. Haynes, 559 U.S. 43 (Feb. 22, 2010)

When an explanation for a peremptory challenge is based on a prospective juror’s demeanor, the trial judge should consider, among other things, any observations the judge made of the prospective juror’s demeanor during the voir dire. However, no previous decisions of the Court have held that a...

Wood v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290 (Jan. 20, 2010)

The state court’s conclusion that the defendant’s counsel made a strategic decision not to pursue or present evidence of his mental deficiencies was not an unreasonable determination of the facts. The Court did not reach the question of whether the strategic decision itself was a reasonable...

Smith v. Spisak, 558 U.S. 139 (Jan. 12, 2010)

Even if counsel’s closing argument at the sentencing phase of a capital trial fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, the defendant could not show that he was prejudiced by this conduct.

Porter v. McCollum, 558 U.S. 30 (Nov. 30, 2009)

A capital defendant’s trial counsel’s conduct fell below an objective standard of reasonableness when counsel failed to investigate and present mitigating evidence, including evidence of the defendant’s mental health, family background, and military service. The state court’s holding that the...

Wong v. Belmontes, 558 U.S. 15 (Nov. 16, 2009)

Even if counsel’s performance was deficient with regard to mitigating evidence in a capital trial, the defendant could not establish prejudice. Trial counsel testified that he presented a limited mitigating case in order to avoid opening the door for the prosecution to admit damaging evidence...

Bobby v. Van Hook, 558 U.S. 4 (Nov. 9, 2009)

Although restatements of professional conduct, such as ABA Guidelines, can be useful guides to whether an attorney’s conduct was reasonable, they are relevant only when they describe the professional norms prevailing at the time that the representation occurred. In this case, the lower court...

Yeager v. United States, 557 U.S. 110 (June 18, 2009)

An apparent inconsistency between a jury’s verdict of acquittal on some counts and its failure to return a verdict on other counts does not affect the preclusive force of the acquittals under the double jeopardy clause. In this case, the defendant was charged with both fraud and insider trading...

Bobby v. Bies, 556 U.S. 825 (June 1, 2009)

Nearly ten years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002) (Eighth Amendment bars execution of mentally retarded defendants), the defendant was tried for murder and other crimes. The defendant was found guilty and, after being instructed to...

Cone v. Bell, 556 U.S. 449 (Apr. 28, 2009)

Although exculpatory evidence suppressed by the state was immaterial to the jury’s finding of guilt, it might have affected the jury’s decision to recommend a death sentence. The defendant offered an insanity defense based on his habitual use of an excessive amount of drugs and their affect on...

Rivera v. Illinois, 556 U.S. 148 (Mar. 31, 2009)

During a state murder trial, the defendant was denied the opportunity to exercise a peremptory challenge against a female juror because the trial judge erroneously, but in good faith, believed that the defendant’s use of a peremptory challenge violated Batson. The Due Process Clause...

Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S. 111 (Mar. 24, 2009)

Counsel was not ineffective by recommending that the defendant withdraw his insanity defense. The defendant entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI) at his first-degree murder trial in state court. State procedure required a bifurcated trial consisting of a guilt...

Vermont v. Brillon, 556 U.S. 81 (Mar. 9, 2009)

Delay caused by appointed defense counsel or a public defender is not attributable to the state in determining whether a defendant’s speedy trial right was violated, unless the delay resulted from a systemic breakdown in the public defender system.

Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, 555 U.S. 335 (Jan. 26, 2009)

Supervisory prosecutors were entitled to absolute immunity in connection with the plaintiff’s claims that prosecutors failed to disclose impeachment material due to the failure to train prosecutors, failure to supervise prosecutors, or failure to establish an information system in the district...

Oregon v. Ice, 555 U.S. 160 (Jan. 14, 2009)

Apprendi, and later rulings do not provide a Sixth Amendment right to jury trial under an Oregon law that requires findings of fact to support a judge’s decision to impose consecutive sentences. The Court made clear that states such as North Carolina, which do not require a judge to...

On discretionary review of a unanimous opinion of the Court of Appeals, 274 N.C. App. 65 (2020), the Supreme Court held in this Rowan County case that the trial court plainly erred by admitting testimony that violated the defendant’s attorney-client privilege and consequently reversed the trial...

In this Surry County juvenile case, a petition was filed alleging that the juvenile committed extortion by obtaining a digital image of a victim, without her knowledge or consent, in which she was in only her bra and underwear. The petition also alleged that the juvenile used the image to...

In this Cabarrus County case involving a defendant convicted of obtaining property by false pretenses, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, 2021-NCCOA-313, which had concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a special condition of...

In this Yadkin County case, a defendant pled guilty to second-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon in 2013. The defendant filed a motion for appropriate relief asserting that the indictment for the attempted...

In this Davidson County case, the defendant was convicted after a jury trial of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon after he shot and killed a man who was visiting his home. The trial judge rejected the defendant’s request for an instruction under N.C.P.I.—Crim. 308....

The defendant was indicted for seven crimes arising from a domestic violence incident. The defendant severely beat his wife, resulting in her being hospitalized for six days where she was treated for extensive swelling and bruising to face and neck, fractures to rib bones and bones around her...

The defendant was charged with violating G.S. 14-4 for violation of a city ordinance. The defendant was issued a criminal summons stating that his property was in violation of City of Fayetteville Code of Ordinances Section 22-16(a) for failure to remove all metal items from his yard after due...

The defendant pled guilty to second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The defendant was sentenced to active terms of 176-221 months imprisonment for the second-degree murder charge and 16-20 months imprisonment for the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon...

The defendant was charged with two counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class H felony offense, and attaining the status of a habitual felon. The defendant entered an Alford plea to the sexual-exploitation charges and stipulated to having attained habitual-felon...

The facts of this Haywood County case were previously summarized ...

The defendant was tried for armed robbery and possession of firearm by felon in Wake County. When the prosecution struck two Black jurors from the panel, defense counsel made a Batson challenge. The prosecution argued the strikes were based on the jurors’ body language and failure to...

In this probation revocation case from Buncombe County, the defendant failed to contact his probation officer for nearly three months until his arrest. After more than month of not being able to contact the defendant, the probation officer filed a violation report accusing him of absconding and...

The defendant was charged with second-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping in Cabarrus County and was convicted at trial. Benzodiazepines were found in the victim’s urine, and the State presented expert testimony at trial on the urinalysis results. The expert witness did not conduct the...

The defendant was charged with and convicted of dogfighting and related offenses in Orange County. (1) He argued the evidence was insufficient to establish his specific intent to keep the dogs for purposes of fighting. The court disagreed. When the county Animal Services officials visited the...

The facts of this case were previously summarized following the Court of Appeals decision in State v. Schalow, 269 N.C. App. 369 (2020) (“Schalow II“), available ...

The state obtained recordings of several hundred phone calls that the defendant made while he was in jail awaiting trial on charges of murder, armed robbery, and assault on a government official. The charges arose out of a robbery at a gas station where the clerk was killed and an officer...

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...

The trial court did not err by ordering the defendant to submit to lifetime SBM after he pleaded guilty to first-degree forcible rape and other offenses.  In State v. Strudwick, 273 N.C. App. 676 (2020), the Court of...

Even if the trial court erred by declining to instruct the jury using the defendant’s requested modified self-defense instruction, the defendant did not demonstrate that any such error was prejudicial.  Testimony at trial described alternate versions of events that ultimately culminated in...

In this case involving the trial court’s imposition of lifetime satellite-based monitoring (SBM) following the defendant’s conviction for statutory rape of a child by an adult and other sex offenses, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals erred by allowing the defendant’...

In this case involving the trial court’s imposition of lifetime satellite-based monitoring (SBM) following the defendant’s conviction for an aggravated sex offense, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that the order imposing lifetime SBM effected a reasonable search under the Fourth Amendment...

A few days after the defendant was evicted from her apartment, the defendant, along with one identified companion and one unidentified companion, broke into her landlord’s home. The defendant was armed with a machete and both companions were armed with a hammer. When the three entered the...

The defendant was indicted for assault on a female, habitual misdemeanor assault, and attaining habitual felon status. Following the presentation of the evidence at trial, the trial court instructed the jury on the charges of assault on a female and habitual misdemeanor assault. During the...

In this case where the defendant was convicted of violating a DVPO by attempting to purchase a firearm, the indictment was facially valid and the trial court did not err in concluding that the defendant forfeited her right to appointed counsel.

Reciting general...

The defendant was convicted of attempted first-degree murder for shooting a law enforcement officer who was attempting to serve a warrant for the defendant’s arrest for violating probation. During closing argument, the prosecutor stated:

[You m]ight...

The defendant was convicted of possession of firearm by a felon for his involvement in a drug transaction in which one of the would-be-drug-buyers was shot and killed. Witnesses described the defendant, who they said pulled out a revolver and moved toward the car where the victim was...

The defendant was convicted in a bench trial of speeding 94 miles per hour in a 65 mile-per-hour zone. A divided panel of the Court of Appeals determined that even though the trial court failed to follow the procedure set forth in N.C.G.S. § 15A-1201 for waiver of defendant’s right to a...

The defendant was convicted in 1997 of two counts of first-degree statutory sex offense and was sentenced as a prior record level IV to 339 - 416 months in prison.  He filed a motion for appropriate relief (MAR), arguing that he should have been sentenced at prior record level III.  Before...

The defendant was tried for possession of a firearm by a felon, first-degree kidnapping, burglary, DVPO violations with a deadly weapon, first-degree rape and first-degree forcible sexual offense arising from the violent kidnapping and rape of his former girlfriend.

(1)...

The defendant was charged with assault of a detention officer causing physical injury in Bertie County. Defense counsel obtained a capacity evaluation of the defendant. It showed that the defendant was not capable to stand trial but indicated his capacity could be restored. At a hearing on the...

In 2015, the defendant was charged with several drug crimes and with having attained habitual felon status. In November 2016, a forensic psychologist evaluated the defendant and determined that he suffered from an intellectual disability, memory impairment, and overall neurological...

Six defendants were alleged to have committed an armed robbery at Raleigh’s Walnut Creek Amphitheater. The trial judge granted the State’s motion to try three of the defendant’s jointly, including Mr. Melvin. Before and during trial, Melvin repeatedly moved to sever his case from that...

In 2013, the defendant’s car collided with another vehicle, killing its driver. The defendant was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released. The State later obtained an order directing the hospital to provide the defendant’s medical records and blood. Tests of the blood...

The State’s evidence tended to show that the defendant was driving a van with a trailer attached behind it when he cut off two motorcycles, made rude gestures, and caused one of the motorcycles to crash. The driver of the motorcycle sustained serious injuries and a passenger died as a result of...

On appeal, the defendant’s sole argument was that the trial court erred because his waiver of counsel was not voluntary and was a result of the defendant’s belief that representing himself was the only way to avoid delaying his trial. On May 19, 2019, the defendant requested that his first...

While living with family friends in Wake County, the defendant placed a secret camera in various rooms at different times to record an adult female occupant. He later pled guilty to one count of felony secret peeping. Under the peeping statute, G.S. 14-202(l), the defendant may be required...

In this Bertie County case, the defendant was charged with first-degree murder and felony possession of a weapon by a prisoner for an alleged fight at Bertie Correctional Institution that left another inmate dead. After court adjourned on the first day of the defendant’s trial, one of the...

The Court of Appeals previously published an opinion in this case on October 6, 2020, and a summary of that opinion is available here. As noted in the earlier summary, the defendant...

State v. Crump, 376 N.C. 375 (Dec. 18, 2020)

The defendant was indicted for multiple charges of armed robbery, kidnapping, possession of firearm by a felon, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and assaulting a law enforcement officer with a firearm. The charges arose out of the robbery of an illegal poker game and the...

Defendant was charged in 2012 with several counts of second-degree sex offense and taking indecent liberties against his step-daughter, and went to trial in 2018. During the intervening six years, defendant received a total of seven mental health evaluations in which there were “...

The defendant was on trial for four counts of embezzlement when she attempted to commit suicide by ingesting 60 Xanax tablets during an evening recess. The defendant was found unresponsive, taken to the hospital, and involuntarily committed for evaluation and treatment. The trial was...

State v. Best, 376 N.C. 340 (Dec. 18, 2020)

Defendant filed an MAR challenging his 1993 convictions and death sentence for burglary, rape, armed robbery, and two counts of first-degree murder. The MAR alleged that the state failed to disclose material and exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady. At his...

State v. Steen, 376 N.C. 469 (Dec. 18, 2020)

The defendant appealed from his conviction for the first-degree murder of his grandfather based on the felony murder rule using the attempted murder of his mother with a deadly weapon as the predicate felony. The trial court instructed the jury that it could find the defendant guilty of...

State v. Glover, 376 N.C. 420 (Dec. 18, 2020)

Officers investigating complaints of drug activity at a home where the defendant lived with several others discovered methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine in a small yellow tin in a dresser in the alcove near defendant’s bedroom, an area that the defendant claimed as his personal space....

State v. Chandler, 376 N.C. 361 (Dec. 18, 2020)

Under G.S. 15A-1023(c), a trial court does not have the discretion to reject a defendant’s guilty plea when the plea is the defendant’s informed choice, is supported by a factual basis, and is the product of an agreement where the prosecutor does not make any recommendations concerning...

State v. Farmer, 376 N.C. 407 (Dec. 18, 2020)

In this case involving charges of first-degree sex offense with a child and indecent liberties, the court found that the procedural circumstances were “unsettling” but did not constitute an infringement upon the defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial.  In May 2012, the...

In this Stokes County case, the defendant was an undocumented Mexican citizen living in North Carolina. In 2010, he was charged with felony drug offenses and pled guilty. Defense counsel advised the defendant that there “may” be immigration consequences as a result. In 2017, he was arrested by...

This Davidson County case involved the sexual abuse of a girl at ages 10 and 13. The defendant was the child’s grandfather. In addition to assaulting the child, the defendant also abused the child’s mother, his daughter. The child’s mother reportedly traded sex with her daughter for drugs from...

The defendant was charged with first degree burglary after she was found inside the victims’ home in the early morning hours, having taken items from their cars and placed them inside a purse belonging to one of the homeowners. The defendant appeared to be impaired at the time she was arrested....

The defendant was arrested for impaired driving and posted bond on same day through the bail agent. The defendant subsequently failed to appear, and an order was issued for her arrest. The court subsequently mailed a bond forfeiture notice to the bail agent. The bail agent filed a motion...

In 2000, the defendant was convicted of felony possession of cocaine, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a weapon on school property, misdemeanor resisting a public officer, second-degree trespass, and carrying a concealed weapon. The defendant gave notice of appeal in open...

State v. Pabon, 273 N.C.App. 645, 850 S.E.2d 512 (Oct. 6, 2020) modified and affirmed on other grounds, 2022-NCSC-16, 867 S.E.2d 632 (Feb 11 2022)

In this Cabarrus County case, the defendant was convicted of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree rape. After developing a friendship with the victim, he drugged her without her knowledge, took her to a friend’s house and raped her. The defendant appealed, raising numerous challenges.

...
State v. Greenfield, 375 N.C. 434 (Sept. 25, 2020)

In this felony murder case based on the underlying felony of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, the trial court erred by not instructing the jury on self-defense and the doctrine of transferred intent.  The evidence at trial showed that the defendant and...

The rule of State v. Harbison, 315 N.C. 175 (1985) that a criminal defendant suffers a per se violation of the right to effective assistance of counsel when counsel concedes the defendant’s guilt to the jury without the defendant’s prior consent applies to situations involving an...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision below, 259 N.C. App. 127 (2018), the court reversed the Court of Appeals and held that appellate counsel was not ineffective for failing to cite a particular line of cases because the facts of this case were distinguishable from those in the line...

In this sex offense case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion for a mistrial and instead giving a curative instruction to the jury in response to the State’s objectionable questioning of a witness.  Defense counsel did not admit the defendant’s guilt...

The trial court properly denied the Surety’s motion for relief from a bond forfeiture order where the motion was made prior to entry of final judgment and was not based on one of the seven grounds for relief enumerated in G.S. 15A-544.5(b).  The basis for the Surety’s motion for relief was...

In this case involving a waiver of counsel at a probation revocation hearing and the defendant’s appeal of the trial court’s revocation of her probation, the court declined to dismiss the appeal due to the defendant’s failure to comply with Rule 4 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure and...

The trial court had no statutory authority to enter a bail bond forfeiture where the defendant was not “released” from custody within the meaning of Article 26 of G.S. Chapter 15A because he was subject to an ICE detainer, was picked up by federal agents, and was deported to Mexico.  In 2018,...

State v. Smith, 375 N.C. 224 (Aug. 14, 2020)

The defendant worked full-time at Knightdale High School, initially as an In-School Suspension teacher and then as a Physical Education teacher. Although not certified as a teacher, he worked the same hours as a certified teacher, which included a regularly scheduled planning period. During his...

State v. Coley, 375 N.C. 156 (Aug. 14, 2020)

The defendant was indicted for attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and possession of a firearm by a felon. On June 7, 2016, the defendant was sitting outside of a neighbor’s house with a group of friends when the defendant’s...

After violating his probation, the defendant was indicted on charges of interfering with an electronic monitoring device and attaining the status of a habitual felon. The habitual felon indictment charged defendant with attaining habitual felon status based on three prior felony convictions in...

The defendant was charged with multiple crimes related to a break-in at the home of the elected district attorney. The trial court allowed the defendant’s first appointed lawyer to withdraw based on an unspecified conflict in February 2018. In April 2018 his second appointed lawyer also moved to...

In this Moore County case, the defendant was convicted of first-degree rape and sex offense, crime against nature, possession of firearm by felon, communicating threats and various assaults stemming from attacks on his estranged then-wife. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court...

Because the trial court’s order setting aside a bond forfeiture failed to make material findings of fact, conclusions of law, or any ruling as to whether a bail agent’s motion to set aside the forfeiture should be considered and set aside under G.S. 15A-544.5(b)(7), rather than under...

State v. Bennett, 374 N.C. 579 (June 5, 2020)

The defendant was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and multiple drug crimes including drug trafficking. During jury selection, the State peremptorily challenged two potential jurors who were black before accepting a white juror. The defendant made a...

Carlos Chavez and Luis Lopez, initially charged with state crimes and held in pretrial detention in the Mecklenburg County Jail, both became eligible for release from their state charges on October 13, 2017. But they were not released. The Sheriff, a participant in a § 287(g) agreement...

State v. Capps, 374 N.C. 621 (June 5, 2020)

The defendant was charged by arrest warrant with misdemeanor injury to personal property, misdemeanor larceny, and reckless driving after he cut off the end of a truck stop’s air hose, attempted to strike his passenger with it, and then quickly fled with it when confronted by an undercover...

State v. Taylor, 374 N.C. 710 (June 5, 2020)

In 2011 the defendant was charged with first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon for his participation in a murder allegedly committed by Taurus Locklear and Shawn Jones. A plea agreement allowed the defendant to plead...

In a case involving charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a weapon on educational property, the defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his argument that the trial court erred by denying his pretrial suppression motions related to the lawfulness of a traffic...

The defendant was convicted of felony breaking or entering in 17 CRS 54550 and felony larceny after breaking or entering in 17 CRS 54551. The trial judge sentenced him to two consecutive 8 to 19 months prison terms, suspended the sentences, and placed him on probation. Violation reports...

The defendant met his former girlfriend and new boyfriend, the victim in the case, at a bar. The defendant asked the victim to step outside to talk. During the exchange, the victim told the defendant to hit him. (According to the concurrence, the victim said, “If you want to hit me, hit me...

The plaintiff brought a facial constitutional challenge to a state law concerning automated red-light traffic cameras in the City of Greenville. She alleged the law violated the North Carolina Constitution prohibiting local laws relating to health and sued the City of Greenville, Pitt...

The defendant was convicted of trafficking in opium or heroin. He argued on appeal that the trial court committed plain error by allowing the State to introduce into evidence the drugs found in his vehicle. The Court of Appeals concluded that the defendant waived appellate review of this claim...

State v. Hobbs, 374 N.C. 345 (May. 1, 2020)

The defendant was tried capitally in Cumberland County and convicted of first-degree murder (among other offenses). On appeal, he argued the trial court erred in denying his Batson challenges to three peremptory strikes used by the State against black jurors during jury selection. The...

State v. Diaz-Tomas, 271 N.C.App. 97, 841 S.E.2d 355 (Apr. 21, 2020)

In 2015, the defendant was charged with impaired driving and driving without an operator’s license. He failed to appear on the charges in 2016, which prompted the district court to issue an order for arrest and the State to dismiss the case with leave. In 2018 the defendant was arrested on...

In March 2018 the defendant was charged with multiple crimes after breaking into a gas station. In August 2018, the trial court first addressed the defendant’s right to counsel. The defendant said that he did not want a lawyer, but then, when asked by the judge, “You’re not just waiving...

The defendant was convicted of misdemeanor stalking in district court in Forsyth County and sentenced to time served. The defendant filed a pro se written notice of de novo appeal to superior court on the ninth day after the district court’s judgment. The State moved to dismiss the appeal under...

This Pitt County case involved charges of attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury (“AWDWIKISI”) and felony breaking or entering. Before trial, the defendant signed a document allowing his attorney to argue that he was guilty of...

State v. Golder, 374 N.C. 238 (Apr. 3, 2020)

The defendant in this case was not a licensed bondsman, but over a period of five to six years he paid an employee at the clerk’s office to make entries into a computer record system indicating that the defendant had filed motions to set aside the bond forfeiture in numerous cases, even...

The defendant’s bond was forfeited after he failed to appear for court. After the defendant was served with an order for arrest for failing to appear, the surety on his bond (1st Atlantic Surety Company) filed a motion to set aside the forfeiture...

Over a dissent and with one judge concurring in result only, the court determined that the trial court erred by failing to give the defendant an opportunity to be heard on the issue attorney’s fees prior to entering a civil judgment against him.  Among several procedural issues in this case was...

State v. Nobles, 373 N.C. 471 (Feb. 28, 2020)

The defendant did not sufficiently demonstrate that he qualifies as an “Indian” under the federal Indian Major Crimes Act (IMCA) and, consequently, the trial court did not err in refusing to dismiss state murder, robbery, and weapons charges on jurisdictional grounds or in ruling that the...

State v. Mercer, 373 N.C. 459 (Feb. 28, 2020)

Confronting a question of first impression, the court held that “in narrow and extraordinary circumstances” the common law defense of justification may be an affirmative defense to a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon under G.S. 14-415.1.  Noting that justification is an affirmative...

State v. Alonzo, 373 N.C. 437 (Feb. 28, 2020)

Contrary to the conclusion of the Court of Appeals below, the trial court did not err in this felony child abuse case under G.S. 14-318.4 by failing to instruct the jury that the term “sexual act” for purposes of the offense is the definition provided for the term in what is now Article 7B...

State v. Seam, 373 N.C. 529 (Feb. 28, 2020)

The court per curiam affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, which had held that his sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole for his conviction of felony murder when he was 16 years old was not grossly disproportionate to his crime under the both the Eighth Amendment and...

In this case where the defendant was tried without counsel for driving with a revoked license, RDO, and other charges, the Court of Appeals was correct in holding that the defendant did not forfeit his right to counsel and that the trial court therefore was required to ensure that the defendant’...

During cross-examination of the complaining witness in a case involving a charge of assault on a female, the defendant began a line of questions to which the State objected. The trial judge excused the jury and conducted a voir dire, during which the defendant’s counsel demonstrated the proposed...

(1) At his trial for habitual DWI, the defendant took the stand, denied driving, and admitted his prior DWI convictions in explaining why he did not drive on the night in question and why, based on his past interactions with law enforcement, he did not speak to the arresting officers. On cross-...

In this Duplin County case, the defendant was convicted by a jury of financial card fraud, obtaining property by false pretenses, identity theft, and habitual felon. She appealed, arguing that her motion to dismiss for insufficiency of the evidence should have been granted as to the identity...

The defendant was convicted of impaired driving in Macon County and appealed. The defendant was driving a moped and collided with a car. A trooper responded, investigating and preparing a crash report (and later charging the defendant). At trial, the trooper testified during cross-examination by...

The defendant was charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder after he asked someone he met through a mutual acquaintance (“Edwards”) to murder his wife for money. After repeated requests from the defendant over the next few days, Edwards contacted law enforcement and assisted their...

In this sex offense and indecent liberties case, the court held: (1) a sex offense indictment that identified the child victim as “Victim #1” was fatally defective; (2) the trial court’s erroneous failure to conduct a jury instruction conference prior to submitting the existence of a statutory...

In 1999, the defendant was found guilty of assault on a female, and the trial judge entered a prayer for judgment continued (PJC) with a condition that the defendant pay costs of court. In 2017, the defendant was denied a concealed carry permit in West Virginia on the ground that his 1999 case...

State v. Harvin, 268 N.C.App. 572, 836 S.E.2d 899 (Dec. 3, 2019) temp. stay granted, 373 N.C. 595, 835 S.E.2d 851 (Dec 20 2019)

The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. The...

The defendant pled guilty to two counts of manufacturing methamphetamine after the trial court denied his motion to suppress items seized during a search. The case came back before the court of appeals on remand from the supreme court for reconsideration in light of State v. Ledbetter,...

The defendant was placed on probation in district court pursuant to a formal deferred prosecution agreement under G.S. 15A-1341(a1). A district court judge found him in violation and revoked his deferred prosecution probation. The defendant appealed to superior court for a de novo violation...

The defendant was convicted by a jury of two counts of statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult and one count of first-degree kidnapping based on his repeated sexual assaults of his seven-year-old niece. The trial court sentenced the defendant to prison and ordered him to enroll in...

The defendant was seen handling a black box in connection with a possible drug transaction/ransom payment. The next day, officers found a black box full of cocaine in the woods nearby. The defendant was charged with and convicted of trafficking by possession. He appealed, arguing that the State’...

In this Watauga County case for indecent liberties, the defendant was accused of improper contact with a child in an incident allegedly witnessed by the child’s sister and mother. The State sought to compel the mother and two daughters to testify at trial. After jury was impaneled and opening...

In 2007, the defendant shot and killed one victim, a family friend, and seriously injured a second victim, his mother. After he was arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder, the defendant was evaluated and found to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and substance abuse...

The defendant began a relationship with B.F. in 2012. The criminal offenses occurred in 2014, when B.F. brought her daughter L.F. (age 3 at the time) to the defendant’s parents’ house. While B.F. and L.F. were sitting on a bed with the defendant and watching a children’s television show, the...

State v. Ryan, 371 N.C. 445 (Sept. 27, 2019)

After a hung jury and mistrial in 2009, the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in 2010 and sentenced to death. Defendant appealed, but the case was remanded to the trial court to resolve the defendant’s post-conviction motions, including a motion...

The defendant was charged with drug offenses. A lawyer was appointed to represent him. Immediately before trial, the defendant stated that he wanted to hire a lawyer instead and could afford to do so. A superior court judge determined that appointed counsel was providing effective assistance and...

The defendant was charged with driving while license revoked, not an impaired revocation; assault on a female; possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a felony; attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon; and habitual felon status. The State proceeded to trial on the charges...

(1) On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. ___, 818 S.E.2d 324 (2018), the court, over a dissent, reversed the Court of Appeals’ conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to send a charge of disorderly conduct, based upon the juvenile’s act of throwing a chair in...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___ (2018), the court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision vacating the defendant’s conviction on double jeopardy grounds. In this murder case, the defendant’s first trial ended in a mistrial due to a...

On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, State v. Parisi, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 228 (2018) (discussed in an earlier blog post by Shea Denning, https://nccriminallaw.sog.unc.edu/got-...

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 18 (2018), the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision finding satellite-based monitoring (SBM) to be an unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional search in the defendant’s case....

On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 814 S.E.2d 843 (2018), the Supreme Court considered the statutory requirements for revoking probation after it has expired. In this case the defendant’s probation officer filed a violation report on May 12, 2016 alleging...

In this bond forfeiture case, the trial court erred by granting the sureties relief from a bond forfeiture before the date of the forfeited bond’s final judgment.  The court first determined that the Board of Education’s appeal of the trial court’s grant of relief was timely as it was filed two...

In this habitual larceny case where the defendant was sentenced as a habitual felon, the defendant did not establish that his trial counsel did not have authority to stipulate to the prior convictions used to elevate his charge to habitual larceny.  Noting that in other contexts it had expressly...

In this habitual larceny case where the defendant was sentenced as a habitual felon, the defendant was not prejudiced by the trial court’s failure to formally arraign him on the indictment alleging the prior convictions.  G.S. 15A-928 mandates that in cases where a previous conviction elevates a...

In this habitual larceny case where the defendant was sentenced as a habitual felon, the use of an ACIS printout to prove one of the defendant’s prior convictions during the habitual felon phase of trial was competent evidence that did not violate the best evidence rule.  Citing State v....

In a 5-to-1 decision, the Court affirmed the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 500 (2018) (unpublished), finding that the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on self-defense or imperfect self-defense in the stabbing death of...

In this felon in possession of a firearm case, the defendant was not deprived of effective assistance of counsel when the trial court rejected defense counsel’s attempt to stipulate to the fact that the defendant was a convicted felon where the defendant disagreed with the stipulation. Before...

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 813 S.E.2d 463 (2018), the court held that although the defendant failed to preserve his argument that the trial court erred by imposing lifetime SBM without determining whether the monitoring was a...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 808 S.E.2d 154 (2017), the court held that the State does not have a right to appeal orders granting expunctions under G.S. 15A-145.5. Deciding an issue of first impression, the court noted that the...

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...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 816 S.E.2d 207 (2018), the court held that a manufacturing marijuana indictment was not fatally defective. The indictment alleged that the defendant “did manufacture [marijuana] . . . by producing,...

On writ of certiorari of a divided decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 811 S.E.2d 215 (2018), the court held that the defendant was not prejudiced by the trial court’s decision to allow the jury to review photographs in the jury room without the defendant’s consent. At trial at...

On writ of certiorari from a divided decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 811 S.E.2d 215 (2018), the court held that the trial court’s decision to include an “aggressor” instruction in its self-defense instructions did not constitute plain error. The trial court, without any...

The court per curiam affirmed an unpublished decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 813 S.E.2d 478 (2018) holding that the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion for appropriate relief (MAR) alleging ineffective assistance of appellate counsel with...

In this child sexual assault case, the defendant failed to show prejudice caused by the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion for a continuance. That motion asserted that the district attorney did not file an adequate trial calendar 10 or more days before trial in violation of G.S. 7A-...

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 808 S.E.2d 178 (2017), the court reversed the decision below holding that the short form indictment for attempted first-degree murder was not fatally defective. G.S. 15-144 provides short...

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 808 S.E.2d 178 (2017), the court held that the prosecutor’s remarks during closing argument in this first-degree murder case were not so grossly improper as to require the trial court to...

In this drug case, the defendant failed to preserve her argument that the trial court erred by failing to sua sponte conduct a hearing to confirm that the defendant’s in-custody statements to law enforcement were knowing and voluntary. The defendant did not move to suppress the statements before...

In this indecent liberties case, the defendant waived any right of appellate review with respect to his arguments challenging admission of his inculpatory statements (he had asserted a Miranda violation and that the statements were involuntary). The defendant has the burden of establishing that...

State v. Conley, 264 N.C.App. 85, 825 S.E.2d 10 (Feb. 19, 2019) aff'd on other grounds, 264 N.C.App. 85, 825 S.E.2d 10 (Apr 3 2020)

Because the defendant failed to present his constitutional double jeopardy argument before the trial court, it was not properly preserved for appellate review. The defendant was found guilty of, among other things, five counts of possession of a gun on educational property. On appeal the...

The court per curiam affirmed a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 833 (2018), in which the court declined the defendant’s request to grant his petition for writ of certiorari to review the trial court’s order requiring him to enroll in lifetime...

In this child sexual assault case, the court reversed the trial court’s order denying the defendant’s Motion for Appropriate Relief (MAR) seeking a new trial for ineffective assistance of counsel related to opinion testimony by the State’s expert. The defendant was convicted of sexual offenses...

(1) In this case where the defendant pleaded guilty to felony speeding to elude arrest pursuant to a plea arrangement, he had no statutory right to appeal. 

(2) However, the court considered the defendant’s petition for writ of certiorari which argued that he did not receive notice and an...

Addressing the merits of an IAC claim raised in a MAR, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that attorney Warmack provided ineffective assistance of counsel at an evidentiary remand hearing because of a dual representation conflict arising from having previously represented codefendant...

State v. Malachi, 371 N.C. 719 (Dec. 7, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 799 S.E.2d 645 (2017), in this felon in possession of a firearm case, the court reversed, holding that though the trial court erred in its jury instructions with respect to possession of a firearm, the...

State v. Fowler, 371 N.C. 718 (Dec. 7, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 800 S.E.2d 724 (2017), the court, in a per curiam opinion, vacated and remanded to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of State v. Malachi, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (2018). In this...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 806 S.E.2d 682 (2017), the court modified and affirmed the decision below, holding that the defendant waived her Eighth Amendment sentencing argument by failing to raise it before the sentencing court and...

The trial court did not err by failing to provide a jury instruction with respect to the audio recording. The court noted that in State v. Nance, 157 N.C. App. 434 (2003), it held that the trial court did not err by declining to give a special instruction requested by the defendant concerning...

Notwithstanding the fact that the court was unable to determine whether the trial court had jurisdiction when it entered judgment in this DWI case, the court held—over a dissent--that it would exercise its discretion to treat the defendant’s appeal as a petition for certiorari in order to reach...

The court reversed the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s motion for reconsideration and motion for appropriate relief (MAR), holding that the requirement that counsel advise the defendant of the immigration consequences of a plea agreement established by Padilla does not...

Although the defendant failed to object on double jeopardy grounds to being sentenced for both armed robbery and possession of stolen goods taken during the robbery, the court addressed the merits of the defendant’s argument, noting that it may consider whether a sentence is unauthorized even in...

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 463 (2017), the court held that although the trial court erred in giving an aiding and abetting instruction, the Court of Appeals incorrectly concluded that the error amounted to...

State v. Jones, 371 N.C. 548 (Oct. 26, 2018)

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 805 S.E.2d 701 (2017), the court affirmed, holding that the citation charging the offense in question was legally sufficient to properly invoke the trial court’s subject matter jurisdiction. The defendant...

State v. Bass, 371 N.C. 535 (Oct. 26, 2018)

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 802 S.E.2d 477 (2017), the court affirmed, holding that the trial court committed prejudicial error by omitting stand-your-ground language from the self-defense jury instructions. The incident in question...

State v. Arrington, 371 N.C. 518 (Oct. 26, 2018)

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 845 (2017), the court reversed, holding that as part of a plea agreement a defendant may stipulate on his sentencing worksheet that a second-degree murder conviction justified a B1 classification...

In this case involving convictions for kidnapping, communicating threats, assaults, breaking or entering, rape, and sexual assault, the court held that because a recording equipment malfunction prevented the court reporter from producing a full transcript of the trial, including crucial portions...

The defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his argument that the trial court erred by admitting 404(b) evidence. The defense objected to the witness’s testimony outside the presence of the jury and before the witness was sworn. After a voir dire, the trial court overruled the...

The defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his assertion of error regarding testimony by the State’s expert in firearms and tool mark examination. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court committed plain error in allowing the expert’s testimony, asserting that unqualified...

The defendant failed to properly preserve the argument that there was a fatal variance between a drug trafficking indictment and the evidence at trial, where the issue was raised for the first time on appeal. The defendant never alleged a fatal variance when he moved to dismiss the charge....

The defendant’s failure to submit his motions to suppress to the trial court with supporting affidavits as required by G.S. 15A-977(a), constituted a waiver on appeal of the right to contest the admission of the evidence in question.

The defendant’s failure to object at trial to the admission of evidence encompassed by a separate motion to suppress, along with his failure to argue plain error constituted a failure to preserve review of that motion on appeal.

Because the defendant failed to raise at trial the constitutional argument that prosecutorial misconduct deprived him of a fair trial, it was not preserved for appellate review.

(1) By failing to raise the argument at trial, the defendant failed to preserve for appellate review the argument that the trial court erred by failing to require the State to file a written pretrial motion to suppress or motion in limine to exclude the testimony of a defense witness.

(2)...

In this felon in possession of a firearm case, the defendant failed to submit an adequate record on appeal to support his challenge to the unanimity of the jury verdict. A juror entered the courtroom during the jury charge conference on a flight instruction. The defendant argued that because the...

The trial court did not err by allowing the Surety’s motion to set aside a bond forfeiture. The motion to set aside asserted as a reason that the defendant had been served with an order for arrest for the failure to appear on the criminal charge as evidenced by a copy of an official court record...

In this drug case the defendant was not entitled to appellate review of whether the trial court erroneously admitted hearsay evidence. The defendant failed to demonstrate that any “judicial action” by the trial court amounted to error where he not only failed to object to admission of the...

State v. Krider, 370 N.C. 692 (Sept. 21, 2018)

On appeal from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 810 S.E.2d 828 (2018), the court affirmed per curiam, holding that the State failed to carry its burden of presenting sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s decision to revoke the defendant’s...

The trial court erred by partially granting the surety’s motion for relief from bond forfeiture. The defendant absconded during trial while subject to pretrial release conditions of electronic monitoring and a $50,000 secured bond. After a final judgment of forfeiture was entered, the surety...

In a case where the defendant pled guilty to DWI pursuant to a plea agreement and in which the court declined to exercise its discretion to grant the defendant’s petition for writ of certiorari, the court noted that the defendant had no right to appeal from an order denying her motion to dismiss...

On remand from the Supreme Court, __ N.C. __, 814 S.E.2d 39 (June 8, 2018), of this DWI case, the Court of Appeals declined to exercise its discretion to grant the defendant’s petition for a writ of certiorari to review her claim that the trial court erred by denying her motion to dismiss. The...

State v. Langley, 371 N.C. 389 (Aug. 17, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 166 (2017), the court reversed, holding that a habitual felon indictment was not fatally defective. The statute requires that a habitual felon indictment set forth “the date that prior felony...

In this drug trafficking case, the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion for appropriate relief (MAR) which asserted ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. Drug were discovered after a vehicle stop. The defendant lost his motion to suppress and after being convicted appealed...

The court dismissed the defendant’s assertion that the trial court erred in its jury instructions for the offense of assault by pointing a gun, finding that the defendant failed to properly preserve this issue for appellate review by lodging objection at trial and failed to specifically and...

The defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his claim that the trial court erred by requiring him to enroll in satellite-based monitoring (SBM). The defendant asserted that the State failed to meet its burden of proving that imposing SBM is reasonable under the fourth amendment....

Because SBM hearings are civil proceedings, the defendant’s oral notice of appeal from an order requiring him to enroll in lifetime SBM was insufficient to give the court jurisdiction to hear his appeal. The court declined to grant the defendant’s request for writ of certiorari to review the...

In this sexual assault case, the trial court did not err by failing to appoint substitute defense counsel. Absent a Sixth Amendment violation, the decision of whether appointed counsel should be replaced is a discretionary one for the trial court. Here, the defendant informed the trial court...

On appeal from a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 795 S.E.2d 374 (2016), the court reversed, holding that the defendant’s Fourth Amendment claims regarding the traffic stop are not reviewable on direct appeal, even for plain error, because the defendant waived them...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 794 S.E.2d 551 (2016) (per curiam), the court reversed, holding that the absence of a procedural rule limits neither the Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction nor its discretionary authority to issue writs of...

(1) Addressing the merits of the defendant’s Strickland ineffective assistance of counsel claim in this direct appeal in a capital case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when his lawyers disclosed to law enforcement where to...

In this capital case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his requests for a mistrial because of two statements made by the State during closing arguments at the guilt phase of the trial. During the investigation of the case, the...

In this capital case the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred in the guilt phase by instructing the jury that it could find the defendant guilty of sexual offense if it found either vaginal or anal penetration where the State failed to present any evidence of anal...

In this capital murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a first-degree murder charge. The defendant argued that the State failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that he was the perpetrator. The court noted that the State’s evidence tended...

(1) The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by denying his motion under the Racial Justice Act to prohibit the State from seeking the death penalty without holding an evidentiary hearing. Assuming arguendo that any version of the RJA applies to the defendant, the...

In this assault case, the court held that although the trial court erred by instructing prospective jurors outside of the presence of defense counsel, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. During jury selection the trial court called a recess. While waiting for jury selection to...

In case where the defendant was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the court reversed the opinion below, ___ N.C. App. ___, 789 S.E.2d 703 (2016), for the reasons stated in the dissent. The case involved the drowning of a child under the...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 786 S.E.2d 73 (2016), in this murder case where the defendant, who was a juvenile at the time of the offense, was resentenced to life in prison without parole under the state’s Miller-compliant...

State v. Morgan, 259 N.C.App. 179, 814 S.E.2d 843 (Apr. 17, 2018) rev’d in part on other grounds, 372 N.C. 609, 831 S.E.2d 254 (Aug 16 2019)

Because the defendant was not given notice and an opportunity to be heard as to the final amount of attorneys’ fees that would be entered against him, the court vacated the civil judgment entered pursuant to G.S. 7A-455 and remanded to the trial court. At sentencing, the trial court may enter a...

On appeal from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 802 S.E.2d 508 (2017), the court reversed, holding that the obtaining property by false pretenses indictment was not defective and that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the conviction on that charge...

State v. Brawley, 370 N.C. 626 (Apr. 6, 2018)

On appeal from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 807 S.E.2d 159 (2017), the court per curiam reversed for the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below, thus holding that a larceny from a merchant indictment was not fatally defective. A majority of...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 789 S.E.2d 679 (2016), the court reversed because of errors in the jury instructions on self-defense. At trial, the parties agreed to the delivery of N.C.P.I.–Crim. 206.10, the pattern instruction on...

State v. Howell, 370 N.C. 647 (Apr. 6, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 792 S.E.2d 898 (2016), the court held that G.S. 90-95(e)(3), which provides that a Class 1 misdemeanor “shall be punished as a Class I felon[y]” when the misdemeanant has committed a previous offense...

In this felony assault case, the defendant failed to preserve for appeal the argument that double jeopardy precluded his second trial. During the defendant’s first trial, the trial court expressed concern about moving forward with the trial. A juror would become unavailable because of his wife’s...

The trial court’s determination that the defendant had forfeited his right to counsel does not “carry over” to the new trial, ordered by the court for unrelated reasons. In the 3½ years leading up to trial the defendant, among other things, fired or threatened to fire three separate lawyers,...

State v. Bursell, 258 N.C.App. 527, 813 S.E.2d 463 (Mar. 20, 2018) aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 258 N.C.App. 527, 813 S.E.2d 463 (May 10 2019)

On an appeal from an order requiring the defendant to enroll in lifetime SBM, the court held--as conceded by the State--that the trial court erred by imposing lifetime SBM without conducting the required Grady hearing to determine whether monitoring would amount to a reasonable search...

(1) The defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by sentencing him for both assault on a female and assault by strangulation was preserved for appellate review. The argument was based on mandatory language in G.S. 14-33(c) that prohibited double punishment. When the trial court acts...

In this kidnapping and sexual assault case, the court held that by failing to object and raise a constitutional double jeopardy argument in the trial court, it was waived on appeal. The defendant tried to assert on appeal that the trial court violated double jeopardy by sentencing him for both...

Although the defendant failed to timely file a written appeal of the trial court’s sex offender registration and SBM order, the court, in its discretion, allowed the defendant’s petition for writ of certiorari to obtain review of these orders.

State v. Cook, 370 N.C. 506 (Mar. 2, 2018)

The court per curiam affirmed a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 802 S.E.2d 575 (2017). In this assault on a law enforcement officer case, the court of appeals held, over a dissent, that the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a self-defense...

In this possession of a firearm by a felon case, the court reversed in part the decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 801 S.E.2d 169 (2017), for the reasons stated in the dissent. A divided panel of the court of appeals had held that the trial court erred by admitting 404(b)...

Because the defendant never asserted a constitutional double jeopardy violation before the trial court, he failed to preserve the issue for appellate review. However, to prevent manifest injustice, the court invoked Rule 2 and addressed the merits of the defendant’s claim.

State v. Phachoumphone, 257 N.C.App. 848, 810 S.E.2d 748 (Feb. 6, 2018) review granted, 372 N.C. 72, 824 S.E.2d 397 (Sep 20 2018)

A defendant who fails to move to dismiss in the trial court on grounds of fatal variance waives the issue for purposes of appeal.

State v. Phachoumphone, 257 N.C.App. 848, 810 S.E.2d 748 (Feb. 6, 2018) review granted, 372 N.C. 72, 824 S.E.2d 397 (Sep 20 2018)

A defendant who fails to move to dismiss in the trial court on grounds of fatal variance waives the issue for purposes of appeal.

In this drug trafficking case, the trial court did not err by requiring the defendant to represent himself at trial. In September 2013, the defendant appeared before a Superior Court Judge and signed a waiver of counsel form. In December 2013 the defendant appeared before another judge and...

State v. Campbell, 257 N.C.App. 739, 810 S.E.2d 803 (Feb. 6, 2018) review granted, 373 N.C. 216, 835 S.E.2d 844 (Jun 7 2018)

Invoking its discretion under Rule 2 to reach the merit of the defendant’s argument, the court held, over a dissent, that the trial court erred by failing to dismiss a larceny charge due to a fatal variance between the indictment and the evidence regarding ownership of the property. The...

Because the defendant did not present any constitutional argument before the trial court, he waived appellate review of whether his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when the trial court allowed the State to retrieve location information from his cell phone without a search warrant. The...

The trial court erred by entering a civil judgment against the defendant for the attorneys’ fees incurred by his court-appointed counsel under G.S. 7A-455 without providing the defendant with notice and an opportunity to be heard. The court explained, in part:

With respect to counsel fees...

(1) In this sexual assault case the court reversed and remanded for a new trial, finding that even if the defendant had clearly and unequivocally asked to proceed pro se, the record did not establish that the defendant’s waiver of counsel complied with G.S. 15A-1242. The defendant was indicted...

Because the defendant failed to raise the issue before the trial court, the court declined to address the defendant’s argument that his consent to search the car was not voluntary.

(1) On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals in this sexual exploitation of a minor case, the court held that although statements in the prosecutor’s final jury argument were improper, they were not prejudicial. The defendant claimed that the images at...

State v. Dick, 370 N.C. 305 (Dec. 8, 2017)

The court reversed a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals in this first-degree sexual offense case, holding that the trial court did not err by giving a disjunctive jury instruction. One of the factors that can elevate a second-degree sexual offense to a first-degree sexual...

State v. Moore, 370 N.C. 338 (Dec. 8, 2017)

On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 795 S.E.2d 598 (2016), the court modified and affirmed the decision below, holding that the defendant received adequate notice of his probation revocation hearing pursuant to G.S. 15A-1345(e). The trial court revoked the...

In a footnote, the court “urge[d]” the trial courts to define all relevant terms in its jury instructions and avoid the situation that occurred here, where the trial court declined to define the relevant term and allowed counsel to argue definitions of the term to the jury. 

(1) By failing to object at trial to the trial court’s handling of a juror’s inquiry about whether jurors may question witnesses, the defendant failed to preserve the issue for appellate review.

(2) The court declined to invoke its discretionary authority under Appellate Rule 2 to suspend...

The defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his contention that the trial court erred by denying defense counsel’s motion to dismiss a charge of second-degree murder. Although the defendant made a motion to dismiss the charge of first-degree murder, he neither moved to dismiss the...

In this attempted murder and assault case, any error with respect to admission of testimony regarding gangs was invited. In his motion in limine, the defendant expressly requested that the trial court either exclude all evidence pertaining to gangs or in the alternative allow cross-examination...

In a case where the trial court made a pretrial determination of not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI), the defendant’s constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel was violated when the trial court allowed defense counsel to pursue a pretrial insanity defense against her wishes....

Following precedent, the court rejected the defendant’s assertion that counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to assert a fourth amendment claim at the hearing where he was ordered to submit to satellite-based monitoring for life. SBM proceedings are civil and ineffective assistance...

The defendant waived his right to direct appeal review of any fourth amendment challenge to the trial court’s order requiring him to enroll in a satellite-based monitoring for life, by failing to raise the constitutional challenge at trial. The court declined to invoke Rule 2 to issue a writ of...

State v. Diaz, 256 N.C.App. 528, 808 S.E.2d 450 (Nov. 21, 2017) aff'd on other grounds, 372 N.C. 493, 831 S.E.2d 532 (Aug 16 2019)

In a case where the defendant was found guilty of abduction of a child, statutory rape and second-degree sexual exploitation, the trial court rejected the defendant’s argument that his constitutional right to a fair trial was violated when the State admitted into evidence his affidavit of...

In this armed robbery case involving a jewelry store heist, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that collateral estoppel precluded the admission of a receipt, identified at trial by witness Kristy Riojas of Got Gold pawn shop. The receipt, issued on the date of the offense, contained an...

Under G.S. 15A-1444, the defendant did not have a right to appeal whether his guilty plea was knowing and voluntary. The defendant argued that his plea was invalid based on the trial court’s assurance that he could appeal the denial of his motion to dismiss. However, considering the defendant's...

State v. Brice, 370 N.C. 244 (Nov. 3, 2017)

On discretionary review from unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 786 S.E.2d 812 (2016), concluding that the habitual misdemeanor larceny indictment was defective, the court reversed. The Court of Appeals concluded that the indictment was defective because it failed to...

State v. Carter, 370 N.C. 266 (Nov. 3, 2017)

On discretionary review from a unanimous unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals vacating a conviction for carrying a concealed gun on grounds that the indictment was fatally defective, the court reversed per curiam for the reasons stated in State v. Brice, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying counsel’s motion to withdraw. The defendant was indicted for first-degree murder and armed robbery. Just prior to trial, the defendant provided defense counsel with a list of facts that he wished to concede to the jury: that he was at the...

The court rejected the defendant’s assertion that counsel was ineffective by failing to state for the record details of an absolute impasse between himself and counsel. Although the defendant initially wanted counsel to make certain admissions in opening statements to the jury, after discussing...

The trial court erred by granting a motion to set aside a bond forfeiture. When the defendant failed to appear in district court, the trial court issued a bond forfeiture notice. The bail agent filed a motion to set aside the forfeiture. However, on the preprinted form used for such motions the...

Over a dissent, the court held that the trial court erred by allowing a motion to set aside a bond forfeiture filed by the bail agent on behalf of the surety. Because the record establishes that at the time the surety posted the bond, it had actual notice that the defendant previously had failed...

The trial court lacked statutory authority to reduce the bond forfeiture amount. After the defendant failed to appear, the clerk of court issued a bond forfeiture notice in the amount of $2,000. A bail agent filed a motion to set aside the bond forfeiture. However, the motion de did not indicate...

State v. Huey, 370 N.C. 174 (Sept. 29, 2017)

Reversing a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals in this murder case, the court held that while certain statements made by the prosecutor in his closing argument were improper, the arguments did not amount to prejudicial error. The ADA opened closing arguments by saying “Innocent men don’t...

State v. Murrell, 370 N.C. 187 (Sept. 29, 2017)

Affirming an unpublished opinion of the Court of Appeals, the court held that a robbery indictment was fatally defective. The indictment alleged, in relevant part, that the defendant committed the bank robbery “by way of reasonably appearing to the [named] victim . . . that a dangerous weapon...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that she was entitled to a new trial due to the lack of a trial transcript. After being given numerous extensions, the court reporter failed to produce a trial transcript. The defendant claimed this failure violated her right to effective appellate...

The court agreed with the defendant that a civil judgment imposing fees against him must be vacated because neither the defense counsel’s total attorney fee amount nor the appointment fee were discussed in open court with the defendant. The court noted that on remand the State may apply for...

In a case where the defendant argued, and the State conceded, that certain indictments were fatally defective, the court held that the defendant had no right under G.S. 15A-1444 to appeal his conviction, entered upon a plea of guilty. Nor had he asserted any grounds under Appellate Rule 21 for...

In a case where the defendant argued, and the State conceded, that certain indictments were fatally defective, the court held that the defendant had no right under G.S. 15A-1444 to appeal his conviction, entered upon a plea of guilty. Nor had he asserted any grounds under Appellate Rule 21 for...

Because the defendant did not assert at the trial level that the officer made false statements in his affidavit supporting a search warrant, that issue was not preserved for appellate review. 

Over a dissent, the court held that where a motion to set aside the forfeiture of an appearance bond did not contain the required documentation to support a ground in G.S. 15A-544.5, the trial court lacked statutory authority to set aside the forfeiture. When the defendant failed to appear on a...

State v. Clonts, 254 N.C.App. 95, 802 S.E.2d 531 (June 20, 2017) aff'd on other grounds, 371 N.C. 191, 813 S.E.2d 796 (Jun 8 2018)

The trial court did not err by failing to instruct the jury on imperfect self-defense and imperfect defense of others where the defendant did not request that the trial court give any instruction on imperfect self-defense or imperfect defense of others. In fact, when the State indicated that it...

State v. Langley, 254 N.C.App. 186, 803 S.E.2d 166 (June 20, 2017) rev’d on other grounds, 371 N.C. 389, 817 S.E.2d 191 (Aug 17 2018)

Although juror misconduct occurred, the defendant’s challenge failed because the error was invited. After it was reported to the judge that a juror did an internet search of a term used in jury instructions, the judge called the jurors into court and instructed them to disregard any other...

The court declined to consider the defendant’s argument that his motion to suppress a warrantless blood draw should have been granted because his Fourth Amendment rights were violated where the only ground the defendant asserted with respect to that motion at trial was a violation of G.S. 20-16....

Reversing the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court held that the trial court’s self-defense instructions were not erroneous. The court began by considering whether “North Carolina law allows an aggressor to regain the right to utilize defensive force based upon the nature and extent of the...

The Court of Appeals failed to recognize its discretion under Rule 2 of Rules of Appellate Procedure to refrain from undertaking a review of the defendant’s fatal variance claim, apparently acting under the erroneous belief that it was required to reach the merits of the claim. The defendant was...

State v. Godwin, 369 N.C. 604 (June 9, 2017)

In this DWI case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a special jury instruction explaining that results of a chemical breath test are not conclusive evidence of impairment. Following the pattern jury instructions for DWI, the trial court explained to the jury that...

State v. Todd, 369 N.C. 707 (June 9, 2017)

The Court of Appeals erred by holding that the defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel when appellate counsel failed to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the defendant’s armed robbery conviction. Before the Supreme Court, the State argued that appellate counsel...

Under G.S. 15A-1444(e) the defendant had a right to seek the issuance of a writ of certiorari to obtain appellate review of a sentencing proceeding conducted upon his entry of a guilty plea and the court had jurisdiction to issue the writ. The court held that Appellate Rule 21 did not require a...

In this armed robbery case, the trial court did not err in its colloquy with the defendant about the right to testify. The trial court conducted a colloquy with the defendant in which it warned the defendant that he would be subject to cross-examination if he testified at trial, including cross-...

In this multi-count assault and attempted murder case, because the defendant failed to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence as to the intent elements of the challenged convictions in the trial court, the issue was not preserved for appellate review. The court concluded: “Because defense...

State v. Stith, 369 N.C. 516 (Mar. 17, 2017)

The court per curiam affirmed the decision below, State v. Stith, ___ N.C. App. ___, 787 S.E.2d 40 (April 5, 2016). In that decision, the court of appeals held, over a dissent, that an indictment charging...

The trial court properly applied the doctrine of collateral estoppel when it denied the defendant’s second motion to suppress. The defendant was in possession of a bag containing two separate Schedule I substances, Methylone and 4-Methylethcathinone. He was charged with possession with intent to...

In this child sexual assault case, because the defendant did not make an offer of proof to show what the victim’s responses to questions about her past sexual behavior would have been, he failed to preserve for appellate review whether he should have been allowed to question the victim regarding...

State v. China, 252 N.C.App. 30, 797 S.E.2d 324 (Feb. 21, 2017) rev’d in part on other grounds, 370 N.C. 627 (Apr 6 2018)

The defendant failed to preserve for appellate review a challenge to the admission of evidence at trial concerning the defendant’s previous incarceration. Although the defendant objected to the admission of the evidence during a hearing outside of the jury’s presence, he did not subsequently...

In this drug trafficking case, the defendant did not preserve for appellate review his argument that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress in-court and out-of-court identifications. The trial court denied the defendant’s pretrial motion to suppress, based on alleged violations...

In this drug trafficking case, the trial court erred by failing to appoint an expert to investigate the defendant’s competency to stand trial. Prior to the start of trial, defense counsel expressed concern about the defendant having fallen asleep in the courtroom. The trial court conducted a...

In this habitual impaired driving and driving while license revoked case, the trial court did not commit reversible error when it failed to formally arraigned the defendant pursuant to G.S. 15A-928(c).

State v. Juarez, 369 N.C. 351 (Dec. 21, 2016)

Reversing the Court of Appeals in this first-degree felony murder case, the court held that the trial court did not commit reversible error by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offenses of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. The underlying felony for first-degree...

State v. Seam, 369 N.C. 418 (Dec. 21, 2016)

In a per curiam opinion, and for the reasons stated in Young (summarized immediately above), the court affirmed the trial court and remanded for resentencing.

State v. Moir, 369 N.C. 370 (Dec. 21, 2016)

In determining whether the defendant’s convictions for taking indecent liberties with a child suffice to make him a Tier II offender as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 16911(3)(A)(iv), the court held that it was required to utilize the categorical approach, as supplemented by the “modified categorical...

State v. Juarez, 369 N.C. 351 (Dec. 21, 2016)

Reversing the Court of Appeals in this first-degree felony murder case, the court held that the trial court did not commit reversible error by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offenses of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. The underlying felony for first-degree...

The court reversed the Court of Appeals’ determination that the defendant was entitled to a new trial based on the trial court’s alleged failure to recognize and address an impasse between the defendant and his attorney during trial. The court concluded that the record did not allow it to...

State v. Barnett, 369 N.C. 298 (Dec. 21, 2016)

If supported by appropriate findings as required by the statute, the trial court has authority to enter a “Convicted Sex Offender Permanent No Contact Order” under G.S. 15A-1340.50 prohibiting the defendant from any interaction with a rape victim’s minor children. The defendant was convicted of...

State v. Perry, 369 N.C. 390 (Dec. 21, 2016)

The State conceded and the court agreed that pursuant to Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016), Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012) (holding that imposition of a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole upon a juvenile violates the...

State v. Ross, 369 N.C. 393 (Dec. 21, 2016)

Reversing the Court of Appeals, the court held that the defendant’s plea was knowing and involuntary. The Court of Appeals had held that because the defendant conditioned his plea on the appealability of an issue that was not appealable, the plea was not knowing and involuntary. The court...

State v. Young, 369 N.C. 118 (Dec. 21, 2016)

The State conceded and the court agreed that pursuant to Montgomery, Miller applies retroactively. The court further rejected the State’s argument that the defendant’s sentence was not in violation of Miller because it allowed for a meaningful opportunity for the...

The trial court erred by requiring the defendant to proceed to trial pro se. On February 7, 2013, the defendant was determined to be indigent and counsel was appointed. On May 30, 2014, the defendant waived his right to assigned counsel, indicating that he wished to hire a private lawyer, Mr....

The trial court erred by requiring the defendant to proceed to trial pro se. On February 7, 2013, the defendant was determined to be indigent and counsel was appointed. On May 30, 2014, the defendant waived his right to assigned counsel, indicating that he wished to hire a private lawyer, Mr....

In this child sexual assault case, the defendant failed to preserve the argument that the trial court committed prejudicial error by allowing the State’s expert witness to testify that she diagnosed the child with PTSD, thus improperly vouching for the witness. At trial, the defendant did not...

State v. Dalton, 369 N.C. 311 (Dec. 1, 2016)

Affirming the Court of Appeals in this murder case, the court held that the prosecutor’s closing argument exaggerating the defendant’s likelihood of being released from civil commitment upon a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity and constituted prejudicial error requiring a new trial. At...

Because the trial court properly conducted the inquiry required by G.S. 15A-1242, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that his waiver of counsel, in connection with a probation violation hearing, was not knowing and voluntary. In addition to finding that the trial court’s colloquy with...

In this DWI case, the superior court properly dismissed the State’s notice of appeal from a district court ruling granting the defendant’s motion to suppress where the State’s notice of appeal failed to specify any basis for the appeal. Although such a notice may be sufficient for an appeal to...

Where the defendant and counsel reached an impasse regarding whether to cross-examine the State’s DNA analyst witness on an issue of sample contamination in this child sexual assault case, the trial court did not did not violate the defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights by ruling that it would be...

By failing to properly object at trial, the defendant did not properly preserve for appeal the issue of whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting lay opinion testimony identifying the defendant in surveillance footage and in a photograph.

A drug trafficking defendant who pled guilty and was sentenced pursuant to a plea agreement had no right to appeal the sentence, which was greater than that allowed by the applicable statute at the time. G.S. 15A-1444 allows for appeal after a guilty plea for terms that are unauthorized under...

In a drug case in which the court of appeals had held that a strip search of the defendant did not violate the fourth amendment, State v. Collins, ___ N.C. App. ___, 782 S.E.2d 350 (2016), the Supreme Court affirmed solely on the ground that because the defendant failed to raise in the...

The Court of Appeals had subject-matter jurisdiction to review, pursuant to the State’s petition for writ of certiorari, a trial court’s grant of its own motion for appropriate relief (MAR). The defendant pleaded guilty to rape of a child by an adult offender and to sexual offense with a child...

State v Todd, 249 N.C.App. 170, 790 S.E.2d 349 (Aug. 16, 2016) rev’d on other grounds, 369 N.C. 707 (Jun 9 2017)

The law of the case doctrine did not prevent the trial court from considering the defendant’s motion for appropriate relief where the issue in question had not been raised or determined in the prior proceeding.

Because the trial court did not take a proper of waiver of counsel, the defendant was entitled to a new trial. The State conceded error, noting that the defendant had not been advised of the range of permissible punishments as required by G.S. 15A-1242.

The trial court did not err by assigning attorney’s fees to the judgment against the defendant for possession of a firearm by a felon, the payment of which was a condition of the defendant’s probation for that conviction. The defendant argued that the fees should have been assigned to the...

A citation charging transporting an open container of spirituous liquor was not defective. The defendant argued that the citation failed to state that he transported the fortified wine or spirituous liquor in the passenger area of his motor vehicle. The court declined the defendant’s invitation...

State v. Davis, 368 N.C. 794 (Apr. 15, 2016)

Modifying and affirming the unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals below, 239 N.C. App. 522 (2015), in this child sexual assault case, the court held that expert testimony about general characteristics of child sexual assault victims and the possible reasons for delayed reporting of such...

State v. Walters, 368 N.C. 749 (Mar. 18, 2016)

On discretionary review from a unanimous unpublished Court of Appeals decision, the court reversed in part, concluding that the trial court’s jury instructions regarding first-degree kidnapping did not violate the defendant’s constitutional right to be convicted by the unanimous verdict. The...

State v. James, 368 N.C. 728 (Mar. 18, 2016)

In an appeal from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 774 S.E.2d 871 (2015), the court per curiam affirmed for the reasons stated in State v. Williams, 368 N.C. 620 (Jan. 29, 2016) (in a case where the defendant, a sex offender, was charged with...

State v. Miller, 368 N.C. 729 (Mar. 18, 2016)

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision, the court held that the Court of Appeals improperly dismissed the State’s appeal on grounds that the trial court’s order had not been properly entered. The court noted that in a criminal case, a judgment or order is entered when the...

State v. Spivey, 368 N.C. 739 (Mar. 16, 2016)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, 240 N.C. App. 264 (2015), the court reversed, holding that an indictment charging the defendant with injury to real property “of Katy’s Great Eats” was not fatally defective. The court rejected the argument that the...

The trial court erred by requiring the defendant to proceed pro se. After the defendant was indicted but before the trial date, the defendant signed a waiver of the right to assigned counsel and hired his own lawyer. When the case came on for trial, defense counsel moved to withdraw, stating...

By failing to object at trial, the defendant waived assertion of any error regarding shackling on appeal. The defendant argued that the trial court violated G.S. 15A-1031 by allowing him to appear before the jury in leg shackles and erred by failing to issue a limiting instruction. The court...

The trial court erred by requiring the defendant to proceed pro se. After the defendant was indicted but before the trial date, the defendant signed a waiver of the right to assigned counsel and hired his own lawyer. When the case came on for trial, defense counsel moved to withdraw, stating...

State v. Williams, 368 N.C. 620 (Jan. 29, 2016)

In a case where the defendant, a sex offender, was charged with violating G.S. 14-208.11 by failing to provide timely written notice of a change of address, the court held that the indictment was not defective. Distinguishing State v. Abshire, 363 N.C. 322 (2009), the court rejected the...

State v. McCrary, 368 N.C. 571 (Dec. 18, 2015)

In a per curiam opinion, the supreme court affirmed the decision below, State v. McCrary, __ N.C. App. __, 764 S.E.2d 477 (2014), to the extent it affirmed the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion...

Where the defendant entered a guilty plea and did not assert an issue identified in G.S. 15A-1444(a2), he did not have a statutory right to appeal.

Because the provisions of Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure prevail over G.S. 15A-1444(e), that rule provides the only circumstances where the court can issue a writ of certiorari: when the defendant lost the right to appeal by failing to take timely action; when the appeal is...

(per curiam). Because the participating Justices were equally divided, the decision below, State v. Pendergraft, 238 N.C. App. 516 (Dec. 31, 2014), was left undisturbed and without precedential value. In the decision below the court of appeals had held, over a dissent, that an...

State v. Ellis, 368 N.C. 342 (Sept. 25, 2015)

Reversing the opinion below, State v. Ellis, __ N.C. App. __, 763 S.E.2d 574 (Oct. 7, 2014), the court held that an information charging injury to personal property was not fatally flawed. The information alleged the victims as: “North Carolina State University (NCSU) and NCSU High...

State v. Bartlett, 368 N.C. 309 (Sept. 25, 2015)

The court reversed the decision below, State v. Bartlett, 231 N.C. App. 417 (Dec. 17, 2013), holding that a new suppression hearing was required. At the close of the suppression hearing, the superior court judge orally granted the defendant’s motion and asked counsel to prepare a...

Where appointed counsel was allowed to withdraw, on the sixth day of a bribery trial, pursuant to Comment 3, Rule 1.16(a) of the N.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, the trial court was not required to appoint substitute counsel. Comment 3 states in relevant part:

Difficulty may...

State v. Campbell, 368 N.C. 83 (June 11, 2015)

Reversing the decision below, State v. Campbell, 234 N.C. App. 551 (2014), the court held that a larceny indictment was not fatally flawed even though it failed to specifically allege that a church, the co-...

State v. May, 368 N.C. 112 (June 11, 2015)

The court reversed State v. May, 230 N.C. App. 366 (2013), which had held that the trial court committed reversible error when charging a deadlocked jury. The court of appeals held that...

State v. Berry, 368 N.C. 90 (June 11, 2015)

In this child sexual assault case and for the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below, the supreme court reversed State v. Berry, 235 N.C. App. 496 (2014), which had held that the trial court did not...

In this first-degree murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion for a bill of particulars. The defendant argued that because the State used a short-form indictment to charge murder, he lacked notice as to which underlying felony supported the...

State v. Hembree, 368 N.C. 2 (Apr. 10, 2015)

During closing arguments at the guilt-innocence phase of this capital murder trial, the State improperly accused defense counsel of suborning perjury. The prosecutor argued in part: “Two years later, after [the defendant] gives all these confessions to the police and says exactly how he killed [...

State v. Edgerton, 368 N.C. 32 (Apr. 10, 2015)

In a case where the defendant was found guilty of violation of a DVPO with a deadly weapon, the court per curiam reversed and remanded for the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below. In the decision below, State v....

In this DWI case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by denying his motion to quash a citation on grounds that he did not sign that document and the charging officer did not certify delivery of the citation. Specifically, the defendant argued that the officer’...

Because defendant engaged in repeated conduct designed to delay and obfuscate the proceedings, including refusing to answer whether he wanted the assistance of counsel, he forfeited his right to counsel. Citing State v. Leyshon, 211 N.C. App. 511 (2011), the court began by holding that...

Because defendant engaged in repeated conduct designed to delay and obfuscate the proceedings, including refusing to answer whether he wanted the assistance of counsel, he forfeited his right to counsel. Citing State v. Leyshon, 211 N.C. App. 511 (2011), the court began by holding that...

The defendant was competent to stand trial and to represent himself. As to competency to stand trial, the defendant had several competency evaluations and hearings; the court rejected the defendant’s argument that a report of the one doctor who opined that he was incompetent was determinative of...

The defendant was competent to stand trial and to represent himself. As to competency to stand trial, the defendant had several competency evaluations and hearings; the court rejected the defendant’s argument that a report of the one doctor who opined that he was incompetent was determinative of...

State v. Stepp, 367 N.C. 772 (Jan. 23, 2015)

(per curiam). For reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below, the court reversed the court of appeals. In the decision below, State v. Stepp, __ N.C. App. __, 753 S.E.2d 485 (Jan. 21, 2014), the majority held that the trial court committed reversible error by failing to instruct the...

State v. Banks, 367 N.C. 652 (Dec. 19, 2014)

Because the defendant was properly convicted and sentenced for both statutory rape and second-degree rape when the convictions were based on a single act of sexual intercourse, counsel was not ineffective by failing to make a double jeopardy objection. The defendant was convicted of statutory...

State v. Bowden, 367 N.C. 680 (Dec. 19, 2014)

Reversing the court of appeals, the court held that the defendant, who was in the class of inmates whose life sentence was deemed to be a sentence of 80 years, was not entitled to immediate release. The defendant argued that various credits he accumulated during his incarceration (good time,...

State v. Sanders, 367 N.C. 716 (Dec. 19, 2014)

(1) The trial court erred by determining that a Tennessee offense of “domestic assault” was substantially similar to the North Carolina offense of assault on a female without reviewing all relevant sections of the Tennessee code. Section 39-13-111 of the Tennessee Code provides that “[a] person...

State v Walston, 367 N.C. 721 (Dec. 19, 2014)

Based on long-standing precedent, the trial court’s use of the term “victim” in the jury instructions was not impermissible commentary on a disputed issue of fact and the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request to use the words “alleged victim” instead of “victim” in the jury...

State v. Grainger, 367 N.C. 696 (Dec. 19, 2014)

In this murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on accessory before the fact. Because the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder under theories of both premeditation and deliberation and the felony murder rule and the defendant’s...

State v. Hunt, 367 N.C. 700 (Dec. 14, 2014)

The court affirmed per curiam that aspect of the decision below that generated a dissenting opinion. In the decision below, State v. Hunt, 221 N.C. App. 489 (July 17, 2012), the court of...

Because the defendant would not allow the trial to proceed while representing himself, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant the right to continue representing himself and forcing him to accept the representation of a lawyer who had been serving as standby counsel.

Based on assessments from mental health professionals and the defendant’s own behavior, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by ruling that the defendant was competent to represent himself at trial.

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court failed to make the proper inquiry required by G.S. 15A-1242 before allowing him to proceed pro se, concluding that the defendant’s actions “absolved the trial court from this requirement” and resulted in a forfeiture of the right...

The trial court did not err by allowing the defendant to waive his right to counsel and proceed pro se. Notwithstanding the defendant’s refusal to acknowledge that he was subject to court’s jurisdiction, the trial court was able to conduct a colloquy that complied with G.S. 15A-1242. The court...

The defendant had no statutory right to appeal from a guilty plea to DWI where none of the exceptions to G.S. 15A-1444(e) applied.

In a first-degree murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion or violate defendant’s constitutional rights by ordering the defendant to be physically restrained during trial after the defendant attempted to escape mid-trial, causing a lockdown of the courthouse.

(No. COA13-661). The court denied the defendant’s motion to strike the State’s brief, which was filed in an untimely manner without any justification or excuse and after several extensions of the time within which it was authorized to do so had been obtained. However, the court “strongly...

On appeal from the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s suppression motion, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State failed to meet the certification requirements of G.S. 15A-979(c) by addressing its certificate to “the court” rather than the trial court judge. The...

State v. Pennell, 367 N.C. 466 (June 12, 2014)

Reversing the court of appeals, the court held that on direct appeal from the activation of a suspended sentence, a defendant may not challenge the jurisdictional validity of the indictment underlying his original conviction. The court reasoned that a challenge to the validity of the original...

State v. Facyson, 367 N.C. 454 (June 12, 2014)

Reversing the court of appeals, the court held the evidence necessary to prove a defendant guilty under the theory of acting in concert is not the same as that necessary to establish the aggravating factor that the defendant joined with more than one other person in committing the offense and...

State v. Murchison, 367 N.C. 461 (June 12, 2014)

Reversing an unpublished decision of the court of appeals, the court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by basing its decision to revoke the defendant’s probation on hearsay evidence presented by the State. The court noted that under Rule 1101, the formal rules of evidence do...

Although the State had a right to appeal the trial court’s order dismissing charges because of a discovery violation, it had no right to appeal the trial court’s order precluding testimony from two witnesses as a sanction for a discovery violation. 

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by requiring the defendant to wear restraints at trial. The defendant, who was charged with murder and other crimes, objected to having to wear a knee brace at trial. The brace was not visible to the jury and made no noise. At a hearing on the issue,...

The trial court erred by allowing the defendant to proceed pro se at a probation revocation hearing without taking a waiver of counsel as required by G.S. 15A-1242. The defendant’s appointed counsel withdrew at the beginning of the revocation hearing due to a conflict of interest and the trial...

The defendant forfeited his right to counsel where he waived the right to appointed counsel, retained and then fired counsel twice, was briefly represented by an assistant public defender, repeatedly refused to state his wishes with respect to representation, instead arguing that he was not...

The court reversed and remanded the decision below, State v. Stokes, 227 N.C. App. 649 (Jun. 4, 2013) (vacating the defendant’s conviction for second-degree kidnapping on grounds that the evidence was insufficient to establish removal when during a robbery the defendant ordered the...

The court affirmed per curiam the decision below in State v. Howard, 228 N.C. App. 103 (June 18, 2013) (over a dissent, the court dismissed the defendant’s appeal where the defendant...

State v. Jones, 367 N.C. 299 (Mar. 7, 2014)

(1) Affirming the decision below in State v. Jones, 223 N.C. App. 487 (Nov. 20, 2012), the court held that an indictment charging obtaining property by false pretenses was defective where it...

State v. Jones, 367 N.C. 299 (Mar. 7, 2014)

An indictment charging trafficking in stolen identities was defective because it did not allege the recipient of the identifying information or that the recipient’s name was unknown.

Where the defendant voluntarily ingested a large quantity of sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic medications and alcohol during jury deliberations of his non-capital trial, the trial court did not err by failing to conduct a sua sponte competency hearing. The court relied on the fact that the...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying an indigent defendant’s request for substitute counsel. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by failing to inquire into a potential conflict of interest between the defendant and counsel, noting that the...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that his due process rights were violated when the trial court failed to sua sponte conduct a second competency hearing. The court held that the record demonstrated the defendant’s competency, that there was no evidence that his competency was...

State v. Cox, 367 N.C. 147 (Nov. 8, 2013)

The court reversed the decision below, State v. Cox, 222 N.C. App. 192 (2012), which had found insufficient evidence to support a conviction of felon in possession of a firearm under the corpus delicti rule. The defendant confessed to possession of a firearm recovered by officers ten to...

Because the State failed to file a certificate as required by G.S. 15A-1432(e), the appellate court lacked jurisdiction over the appeal. In district court the defendant moved to dismiss his DWI charge on speedy trial grounds. When the district court issued an order indicating its preliminary...

(1) The trial court did not err by failing to inquire, sua sponte, about the defendant’s competency after he was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric unit during trial. After the defendant failed to appear in court mid-trial and defense counsel was unable to explain his absence, the...

The court per curiam affirmed the decision below, State v. Hester, 224 N.C. App. 353 (Dec. 18, 2012), which had held, over a dissent, that the defendant’s first asserted issue must be dismissed because although he argued plain error, he failed provide an analysis of the prejudicial...

The court per curiam affirmed the decision below, Walters v. Cooper, 226 N.C. App. 166 (Mar. 19, 2013), in which the court of appeals had held, over a dissent, that a PJC entered upon a conviction for sexual battery does not constitute a “final conviction” and therefore cannot be a “...

The court per curiam affirmed the decision below, Walters v. Cooper, 226 N.C. App. 166 (Mar. 19, 2013), in which the court of appeals had held, over a dissent, that a PJC entered upon a conviction for sexual battery does not constitute a “final conviction” and therefore cannot be a “...

State v. McDaris, 367 N.C. 115 (Oct. 4, 2013)

The court per curiam affirmed the unpublished decision of a divided panel of the court of appeals in State v. McDaris, 224 N.C. App. 399 (Dec. 18, 2012) (No. COA12-476). The court of appeals had held that a variance between the indictments and the jury instructions did not deprive the...

On review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the court of appeals in State v. Pizano-Trejo, ___ N.C. App. ___, 723 S.E.2d 583 (2012), the members of the Supreme Court equally divided, leaving the decision below undisturbed and without precedential value. The court of appeals had...

For the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below, the court reversed State v. McKenzie, 225 N.C. App. 208 (Jan. 15, 2013), which had held, over a dissent, that prosecuting the defendant for DWI violated double jeopardy where the defendant previously was subjected to a one-year...

For the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below, the court reversed State v. McKenzie, 225 N.C. App. 208 (Jan. 15, 2013), which had held, over a dissent, that prosecuting the defendant for DWI violated double jeopardy where the defendant previously was subjected to a one-year...

The trial court erred by failing to sua sponte order a hearing to evaluate the defendant’s competency to stand trial. Although no one raised an issue of competency, a trial court has a constitutional duty to sua sponte hold a competency hearing if there is substantial evidence indicating that...

(1) Even though the surety’s name was not listed on the first page of form AOC-CR-201 (Appearance Bond for Pretrial Release) the surety was in fact the surety on a $570,000.00 bond, where among other things, the attached power of attorney named the surety and the surety collected the premium on...

The trial court did not err by failing to appoint counsel for the defendant after his case was remanded from the appellate division and before ordering the defendant to submit to a capacity to proceed evaluation. The court held: “the trial court’s order committing defendant to a competency...

Where the State’s witness testified regarding statements made to the victim by the victim’s brother and the defendant failed to move to strike the testimony, the defendant failed to preserve the issue for appellate review.

By failing to object to the omission of diminished capacity and voluntary intoxication from the trial court’s final mandate to the jury instructions on murder, the defendant failed to preserve this issue for appellate review. The trial court had instructed on those defenses per the pattern...

State v. Land, 366 N.C. 550 (June 13, 2013)

The court, per curiam, affirmed the decision below in State v. Land, 223 N.C. App. 305 (2012), holding that a drug indictment was not fatally defective. Over a dissent, the court of appeals had held that when a defendant is charged with delivering marijuana and the amount involved is...

State v. Boyd, 366 N.C. 548 (June 13, 2013)

For the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below, the court reversed State v. Boyd, 222 N.C. App. 160 (Aug. 7, 2012), and held that no plain error occurred in a kidnapping case. In the decision below, the court of appeals held, over a dissent, that the trial court committed plain...

Although the trial court misstated the maximum sentence during the waiver colloquy, it adequately complied with G.S. 15A-1242. The trial court twice informed the defendant that if he was convicted of all offenses and to be a habitual felon, he could be sentenced to 740 months imprisonment, or...

The trial court did not err by denying defense counsel’s motions to withdraw and for the appointment of substitute counsel. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that he and his trial counsel experienced “a complete breakdown in their communications” resulting in ineffective assistance of...

Relying on language in G.S. 15A-979, the court held that a defendant may appeal an order denying a motion to suppress made pursuant to G.S. 15A-980 (right to suppress use of certain prior convictions obtained in violation of right to counsel) where the defendant reserved the right to appeal in...

The court determined that it need not address the substance of the defendants’ challenge to the trial court’s order denying their suppression motions where the argument asserted was not advanced at the suppression hearing in the trial court.

The trial court did not err by denying defense counsel’s motions to withdraw and for the appointment of substitute counsel. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that he and his trial counsel experienced “a complete breakdown in their communications” resulting in ineffective assistance of...

The trial court did not err when during a retrial in a DWI case it instructed the jury that it could consider the defendant’s refusal to take a breath test as evidence of her guilt even though during the first trial a different trial judge had ruled that the instruction was not supported by the...

The court reversed the decision below in State v. Carter,216 N.C. App. 453 (Nov. 1, 2011) (in a child sexual offense case, the trial court committed plain error by failing to instruct on attempted sexual offense where the evidence of penetration was conflicting), concluding that the...

State v. Carter, 366 N.C. 496 (Apr. 12, 2013)

The court reversed the decision below in State v. Carter,216 N.C. App. 453 (Nov. 1, 2011) (in a child sexual offense case, the trial court committed plain error by failing to instruct on attempted sexual offense where the evidence of penetration was conflicting), concluding that the...

State v. Miles, 366 N.C. 503 (Apr. 12, 2013)

The court per curiam affirmed the decision below, State v. Miles, 222 N.C. App. 593 (Aug. 21, 2012), a murder case in which the court of appeals held, over a dissent, that the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The court of appeals held that there was...

State v. Khan, 366 N.C. 448 (Mar. 8, 2013)

(1) There was no ambiguity in a plea agreement with regard to whether the defendant understood that he was stipulating to an aggravating factor that could apply to both indictments. Although the Transcript of Plea Form listed only a file number for the first indictment, the document as a whole...

State v. Khan, 366 N.C. 448 (Mar. 8, 2013)

The evidence was sufficient to establish the aggravating factor that the defendant took advantage of a position of trust or confidence to place the victim in a vulnerable position. The defendant referred to the victim as his “twin,” was brought into the murder conspiracy as a friend of the...

In a per curiam decision, the court reversed the court of appeals for the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion. In the opinion below, Lovette v. North Carolina Department of Correction, 222 N.C. App. 452 (2012), the court of appeals, over a dissent, affirmed a trial court order...

State v. Khan, 366 N.C. 448 (Mar. 8, 2013)

The trial court properly followed the procedure in G.S. 15A-1022.1 for accepting an admission of an aggravating factor.

State v. Carver, 366 N.C. 372 (Jan. 25, 2013)

The court per curiam affirmed State v. Carver, 221 N.C. App. 120 (June 5, 2012), in which the court of appeals held, over a dissent, that there was sufficient evidence that the defendant perpetrated the murder. The State’s case was entirely circumstantial. Evidence showed that at the...

State v. Rico, 366 N.C. 327 (Dec. 14, 2012)

For the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below, the court reversed State v. Rico, 218N.C. App. 109 (Jan. 17, 2012) (holding, over a dissent, that where there was a mistake in the plea agreement and where the defendant fully complied with the agreement, and the risk of any...

The trial court did not err when taking the defendant’s waiver of counsel. The trial court complied with the statute and asked the standard waiver questions in the judges’ bench book. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the waiver was invalid because the trial judge did not inform...

(1) No violation of the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel occurred when the trial court found that the defendant forfeited his right to counsel because of serious misconduct and required him to proceed pro se. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that Indiana v. Edwards...