Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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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

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E.g., 10/22/2021
E.g., 10/22/2021

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...

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...

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....

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 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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. Lee, 370 N.C. 671 (Apr. 6, 2018)

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. 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...

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...

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. 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. 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. 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....

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. 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. 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...

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. Smith, 362 N.C. 583 (Dec. 12, 2008)

When instructing on indecent liberties, the trial judge is not required to specifically identify the acts that constitute the charge.

The defendant was indicted for assault by strangulation, assault on a female, and other offenses after an incident in a hotel where evidence at trial tended to show that the defendant had an altercation with the mother of his child that left her with visible injuries and the defendant with a...

The defendant was arrested for driving while impaired. At the jail, the defendant provided a breath sample, and his alcohol concentration was reported as 0.09. The defendant pled not guilty to impaired driving in district court. Following a bench trial, the judge found the defendant guilty...

In this Bladen County case, the defendant was convicted of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon after shooting a man in an altercation between several people at an apartment complex. There were conflicting accounts about which of the people involved had guns,...

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)...

In this Buncombe County case, the defendant was convicted of possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine. The defendant sold two white rocks to an undercover officer in a parking lot. When the defendant gave the drugs to the officer, he placed them in the officer’s bare hands without any...

The defendant became abusive and violent toward his romantic partner, D.C., after finding out that she had engaged in an intimate relationship while he was in prison for a year. The defendant forced D.C. to drive him to his cousin’s house, while telling her that she would be having sex...

The defendant was charged and convicted of first-degree felony murder for the attempted robbery and fatal shooting of a taxi cab driver whom the defendant had summoned to his apartment complex. When the taxi cab arrived, witnesses saw a man shoot the driver, drag the driver from his car,...

In this case where the defendant and his neighbor exchanged gunfire after an argument about the victim’s dogs killing the defendant’s cat, the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on self-defense.  In the light most favorable to the defendant, the...

After the defendant’s wife left him due to his drinking and violence, the defendant committed a number of threatening and destructive acts towards her that culminated in the defendant shooting his estranged wife twice in the head outside her work. The victim survived and called 911, and...

(1) The State and the defendant’s version of events were inconsistent. For purposes of determining the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a jury instruction on justification, the Court of Appeals recounted the defendant’s version of events. The defendant was in David Harrison’s trailer...

The defendant and his longtime friend, Ivy, began dating in 2017. Per Ivy’s clear and constant requests, their sexual contact with each other was limited to kissing and touching above the waist. Whenever the defendant tried to touch her below the waist, she told him to stop.

...

In this assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury case, the trial court did not err by declining to instruct the jury on the defendant’s requested instruction on the defense of habitation. The victim was riding on his ATV when the defendant attacked him from behind and stabbed...

The defendant, the former District Attorney for Person and Caldwell Counties, was tried for obtaining property by false pretenses, conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses, aiding and abetting obtaining property by false pretenses, three counts of obstruction of justice, and failure to...

The defendant was convicted at trial of impersonating an officer and possession of a weapon of mass destruction (flashbang grenades) in Onslow County. On appeal, the Court of Appeals determined that flashbang grenades did not qualify as a weapon of mass destruction and vacated that conviction....

The defendant was convicted of indecent liberties with a child and felony child abuse by sexual act based on crimes committed against his daughter and stepdaughter. 

(1) The court of appeals determined that the trial court did not plainly err in instructing the jury on felonious child...

The defendant was tried in Guilford County on charges of discharging a weapon into occupied property, firearm by felon, first-degree burglary, trafficking cocaine, possession with intent, and two counts of habitual felon. At the charge conference, the defendant requested an instruction on...

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...

Two men attempted to rob the victim in a McDonald’s parking lot. One of the suspects fired a gun, and both suspects fled. The victim ran to a nearby parking lot, where he found a law enforcement officer. The victim told the officer what had occurred and described the suspects. Two suspects...

The defendant was convicted of trafficking in opium among other crimes. He argued on appeal that the trial court committed plain error when, despite the lack of a request by the defendant, it failed to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of selling hydrocodone. The Court of...

(1) The defendant was indicted for trafficking in MDMA, among other charges. When the case came on for trial, the trial judge called in prospective jurors and questioned them about undue hardships and conflicts with the parties and informed them of the charges against the defendant. The...

The defendant was convicted after a jury trial of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and other serious felony charges after he shot and killed his former girlfriend and then pistol-whipped and fired a gun at another woman, a registered nurse. The court rejected the...

The defendant shot and killed a police officer while the officer was approaching the defendant’s car to serve arrest warrants on him in Robeson County. The defendant claimed that he had been the victim of several recent attempted murders and was “on edge,” so that when he saw the plainclothes...

The defendant was charged with four counts of engaging in sexual acts against a child under 13 and taking indecent liberties with a child. The defendant was alleged to have touched a child, A.M.D., in sexual manner on several occasions over a period of one to two years. The state’s...

In this second-degree murder case, the trial court (1) did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion for a jury view; (2) did not err with respect to a jury instruction on self-defense; and (3) correctly sentenced the defendant at prior-record level IV.

The trial court did...

(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-...

Defendants Molly Martens Corbett (“Molly”) and Thomas Michael Martens (“Tom”), daughter and father, were convicted of second degree murder in the death of Molly’s husband, Jason Corbett (“Jason”). Evidence at trial established that Tom attempted to stop Jason from choking Molly by hitting Jason...

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...

In this assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury case, the trial court properly instructed the jury regarding self-defense.  The defendant was in a physical altercation with another woman, during which she cut the other woman a number of times with a knife.  “Recognizing that a...

State v. Copley, ___ N.C. App. ___, 828 S.E.2d 35 (May. 7, 2019) rev’d on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Apr 3 2020)

In this first-degree murder case involving a shooting outside of the defendant’s home where the Court of Appeals opinion was reversed on other grounds, the court noted an error in the trial court’s jury instructions with respect to defense of habitation. Noting a problem in the current pattern...

In this second-degree rape case, the trial court did not commit plain error by failing to instruct the jury that lack of consent was an element of rape of a physically helpless person. Because lack of consent is implied in law for this offense, the trial court was not required to instruct the...

In this assault case, the trial court committed prejudicial error by failing to instruct the jury on self-defense. Aubrey Chapman and his friend Alan McGill attended a party. During the party, the defendant punched McGill in the face. Chapman saw the confrontation and hit the defendant. Security...

In this assault case, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury that it could consider the defendant’s alleged flight as evidence of guilt. The court began: “The probative value of flight evidence has been ‘consistently doubted’” in our legal system, and we note at the outset that we...

(1) The trial court did not err in its obtaining property by false pretenses instructions. The charge arose out of the defendant’s alleged fraud in connection with an insurance claim. The trial court instructed the jury that to find the defendant guilty it must find that he made a representation...

(1) In this first-degree murder case, the trial court did not err by declining to give the defendant’s requested special jury instruction regarding potential bias of a State’s witness. Because the issue involves the trial court’s choice of language in jury instructions, the standard of review...

In a case where the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, the trial court did not err by failing to submit an instruction on second-degree murder and/or voluntary manslaughter. The defendant argued that the evidence negated premeditation and deliberation. The court disagreed, finding...

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...

In a case where the defendant was found guilty of second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, the trial court committed prejudicial error by failing to include no duty to retreat and stand your ground provisions in the jury instruction...

In this assault inflicting serious bodily injury case, no plain error occurred with respect to the trial court’s jury instructions defining “serious bodily injury” as to victim E.D. The court noted that while it prefers trial courts to use the Pattern Jury Instructions, an instruction is...

The trial court did not err by failing to instruct the jury on an exemption to a drug trafficking charge. The defendant argued that he was exempt from prosecution as an “ultimate user” pursuant to G.S. 90-101(c). The statute defines an ultimate user as a person who lawfully possesses a...

Although the trial court properly gave a self-defense instruction in this shooting into an occupied vehicle and injury to personal property case, it erred by failing to give a no duty to retreat instruction. Viewed in the light most favorable to the defendant, the evidence showed that the...

State v. Hobbs, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 779 (July 17, 2018) rev’d on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (May 1 2020)

In this murder and armed robbery case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying defense counsel’s proffered jury instructions. The additional jury instructions requested by the defense all relate to the defendant’s mental and/or emotional condition at the time of the murder and...

In this voluntary manslaughter case, the trial court committed prejudicial error by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on defense of habitation. The trial court denied the defendant’s requested instruction, finding no evidence that the victim was “trying to break in.”...

In this burning case, the trial court erred by instructing the jury on flight. Here, the evidence raises no more than suspicion and conjecture that the defendant fled the scene. Moreover, there is no evidence that the defendant took steps to avoid apprehension. The error however was not...

State v. Crump, ___ N.C. App. ___, 815 S.E.2d 415 (Apr. 17, 2018) rev’d on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Dec 18 2020)

No prejudicial error occurred with respect to the trial court’s self-defense instructions. With respect to an assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill charge, the defendant raised the statutory justifications of protection of his motor vehicle and self-defense. The trial court found that...

Where there was evidence that the defendant was the aggressor, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury on the aggressor doctrine as it relates to self-defense. The court noted that based on the defendant’s own testimony regarding the incident, it was possible for the jury to infer...

In this kidnapping case, although the trial court erred by instructing the jury on theories that were not alleged in the indictment, no plain error occurred. After rejecting the State’s argument that the defendant was precluded from plain error review, the court noted that the instruction error...

In this DWI case, the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on the defense of necessity. The defendant was arrested for DWI while driving a golf cart. The evidence showed that the defendant and his wife used the golf cart on paths connecting their home to a local bar, that he drove...

In a case where the defendant was charged with attempted murder and assault, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury that the defendant could not receive the benefit of self-defense if he was the aggressor. The incident in question involved a shooting; the defendant argued that he...

In this case where the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, the trial court did not err by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter. On appeal, the defendant argued that he acted in the heat of passion. The defendant did not testify at...

In this murder case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court should have granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss because the State failed to present substantial evidence that the defendant did not act in self-defense. Ample evidence contradicted the defendant’s claim...

In this felony-murder case where the underlying felony was discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, the trial court did not err by declining to instruct on self-defense. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that a reasonable jury could have found that the shooting constituted...

In this homicide case, the trial court did not commit plain error in its jury instructions on the defense of automatism. The defendant argued that the jury instruction misleadingly implied that he had to prove the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial court’s instructions, which were...

The trial court did not commit plain error by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of involuntary manslaughter. In the context of a shooting, the charge of involuntary manslaughter requires evidence of the absence of intent to discharge the weapon. This fact distinguishes...

In this homicide case, the trial court did not commit plain error in its jury instructions on the defense of automatism. The defendant argued that the jury instruction misleadingly implied that he had to prove the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial court’s instructions, which were...

State v. Clonts, ___ N.C. App. ____, 802 S.E.2d 531 (June 20, 2017) aff'd on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, 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...

(1) In this impaired driving second-degree murder case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court’s instruction on proximate cause was erroneous and that the trial court committed plain error by failing to instruct the jury on intervening negligence. The trial court...

In this assault and discharging a firearm into occupied property case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by providing a jury instruction on flight. The defendant fired his weapon at the victims as a vehicle carrying the defendant sped from a gas station. The court rejected the...

In this child abuse case, the trial court did not err by using the term “handling” to describe the element of intentional assault that was part of the child abuse charge. The trial court’s instruction was sufficient to explain the term assault as it related to the case.

In this child abuse case, the trial court committed prejudicial error by giving a flight instruction where there was no evidence upon which a reasonable theory of flight could be based. The court explained: “what the trial court deemed a ‘close call’ in terms of defendant’s alleged flight...

(1) In this case in which the defendant was convicted of felony murder with the underlying felony being child abuse, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request to instruct the jury on premeditated and deliberate murder and all lesser included offenses. There was no evidence...

Where the trial court submitted an instruction on automatism as a defense to a charge of felony child abuse, it was not required to instruct the jury on lesser included child abuse offenses. Automatism is a complete defense to a criminal charge and did not render any of the elements of felonious...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on the testimony of an interested witness (N.C.P.I.-Crim. 104.20), where it gave a different instruction leaving “no doubt that it was the jury’s duty to determine whether the witness was interested or biased...

(1) In this case in which the defendant was convicted of several felonies, including attempted murder, assault with intent to kill, burglary, and numerous attempted sex offenses, the trial court did not err in responding to the deliberating jury’s request that it explain the “legal definition of...

The trial court did not err by declining to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter. The trial judge instructed the jury on first- and second-degree murder but declined the defendant’s request for an instruction on voluntary manslaughter. The jury found the defendant guilty of second-degree...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a special instruction on sequestration. In closing argument, the prosecutor argued, in part: “[Defendant is] cherry-picking the best parts of everybody’s story after … he’s had the entire trial to listen to what everybody else...

In this rape case, because the evidence was clear and positive and not conflicting with respect to penetration, the trial court did not err by failing to instruct on attempted rape. Here, among other things, a sexual assault nurse testified that the victim told her she was penetrated, the victim...

State v. Huey, 243 N.C. App. 446 (Oct. 6, 2015) rev’d on other grounds, 370 N.C. 174 (Sep 29 2017)

In this homicide case, the trial court properly instructed the jury on flight where evidence showed...

In this case involving three accomplices and charges of armed robbery, common law robbery and attempted armed robbery, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that he could not have been convicted of attempted armed robbery under the theory of acting in concert because the trial court did...

In an obtaining property by false pretenses case, the trial did not err by failing to specify in the jury instructions the misrepresentation made by defendant or the property the defendant received. Noting that the trial court used the standard pattern jury instruction, N.C.P.I--Crim. 219.10,...

The trial court did not err by instructing the jury that it could consider wounds inflicted after the victim was felled in determining whether the defendant acted with premeditation and deliberation. The trial court instructed the jury:

Neither premeditation nor deliberation...

In this assault and second-degree murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request to instruct the jury on involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is a killing without malice. However, where death results from the intentional use of a firearm or other deadly...

In this assault and second-degree murder case, the trial court did not err by refusing to instruct the jury on self-defense and by omitting an instruction on voluntary manslaughter. The court noted that the defendant himself testified that when he fired the gun he did not intend to shoot anyone...

No plain error occurred when the trial court in its preliminary instructions before jury selection referred to reasonable doubt as “fair doubt” but correctly defined that term in its final instructions to the jury.

In this felony breaking and entering and larceny case where the victim discovered the defendant in his home, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury regarding flight where the victim testified that when he approached his front door and saw the defendant in his living room, the...

In a child sexual assault case, the trial court did not err by refusing the defendant’s request to instruct the jury that it could consider evidence concerning his character for honesty and trustworthiness as substantive evidence of his guilt or innocence. At trial, five witnesses testified that...

(No. COA13-661). The trial court did not err by refusing to instruct the jury about the results of recent research into factors bearing upon the accuracy of eyewitness identification evidence. The eyewitness identification instruction requested by the defendant was eight pages long and strongly...

(No. COA13-925). For the reasons discussed in the case summarized immediately above, the court held that the trial court did not err by refusing to give a jury instruction requested by the defendant.

The trial court did not commit plain error by failing to define larceny in instructions it provided to the jury on burglary. Because evidence was presented permitting the inference that the defendants intended to steal property and there was no evidence suggesting that they intended to merely...

In this murder case, the trial court did not commit plain error by failing to submit involuntary manslaughter to the jury. The trial court submitted first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and not guilty to the jury. The jury found the defendant guilty of second-degree...

In a multi-count indecent liberties with a student case, the trial court did not err by failing to instruct the jury using the specific acts alleged in the amended bill of particulars. The trial court properly instructed the jury that it could find the defendant guilty if it concluded that he...

In this felony-murder case the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request to instruct on second-degree murder. The underlying felony was armed robbery and the defendant’s own testimony established all the elements of that offense.

In this impaired driving case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s requested special jury instruction and instructing instead using Pattern Jury Instruction 270.20A. The special instruction would have informed the jury that the results of the chemical analysis did not create a...

State v. Epps, 231 N.C. App. 584 (Jan. 7, 2014) aff’d, 368 N.C. 1 (Apr 10 2015)

(per curiam). In a first-degree murder case, the court held, over a dissent, that the trial court did not err by declining to instruct the jury on involuntary manslaughter. The evidence showed that the defendant fought with the victim in the yard. Sometime later the defendant returned to the...

State v. Lalinde, 231 N.C. App. 308 (Dec. 3, 2013) review granted, 367 N.C. 503 (Jun 11 2014)

Where the evidence showed that part of a child abduction occurred in North Carolina jurisdiction was established and no jury instruction on jurisdiction was required. The defendant took the child from North Carolina to Florida. The court noted that jurisdiction over interstate criminal cases is...

In this murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for jury instructions on self-defense and voluntary manslaughter. The defendant’s theory was that the gun went off accidentally. Additionally, there was no evidence that the defendant in fact formed a belief that...

In a rape of a child by an adult case, the trial court did not commit plain error by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser offense of first-degree rape where there was no dispute that the defendant was at least 18 years of age. 

(1) The trial court did not coerce a verdict by giving an Allen charge pursuant to G.S. 15A-1235. The jury sent the judge a note at 3:59 pm, after 70 minutes of deliberations, indicating that they were split 11-to-1 and that the one juror “will not change their mind.” The court rejected...

The trial court did not coerce a verdict by instructing the jurors to continue deliberating after they three times indicated a deadlock. Although the trial court did not give an Allen instruction every time, G.S. 15A-1235 does not require the trial court to do so every time the jury...

In this involuntary manslaughter case, the trial court did not commit plain error by failing to instruct the jury that foreseeability was an essential element of proximate cause. The court noted that foreseeability is an essential element of proximate cause. It further noted that a trial court...

Where no evidence negated the State’s proof of first-degree murder, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for an instruction on second-degree murder.

State v. King, 227 N.C. App. 390 (May. 21, 2013)

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a special instruction concerning the effect of drug use on a witness’s credibility where the trial court gave the general witness credibility instruction. 

In a DWI case, an officer’s testimony supported an instruction that the jury could consider the defendant’s refusal to take a breath test as evidence of her guilt.

In a case in which the victim died after consuming drugs provided by the defendant and the defendant was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury on second-degree murder and the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter. The defendant objected...

In a case in which the victim died after consuming drugs provided by the defendant and the defendant was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury on second-degree murder and the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter. The defendant objected...

In a case in which the victim died after consuming drugs provided by the defendant and the defendant was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury on second-degree murder and the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter. The defendant objected...

State v. Davis, 226 N.C. App. 96 (Mar. 19, 2013)

In a homicide case, the trial court did not err by instructing on flight. The State’s evidence showed that officers were unable to locate the defendant for several months following the shooting. The defendant resided at his aunt’s house before the 2:30 am shooting and instead of returning there...

In a case in which the defendant was charged with first-degree murder, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a second-degree murder charge where there was no evidence to negate the State’s proof of every element of first-degree murder; the defendant’s defense was...

The trial court erred by instructing on flight. The defendant fled from an officer responding to a 911 call regarding violation of a domestic violence protective order. After being arrested the defendant’s vehicle was searched and he was charged with perpetrating a hoax on law enforcement...

State v. Miles, 222 N.C. App. 593 (Aug. 21, 2012) aff’d per curiam, 366 N.C. 503 (Apr 12 2013)

In a case in which the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, the trial court did not err by failing to instruct the jury on second-degree murder. The court found that the record supported the inference that the defendant murdered the victim after premeditation and deliberation. The...

In a burglary case, the trial court did not err by failing to reiterate an instruction on the doctrine of recent possession when instructing the jury on the lesser-included offense of felonious breaking or entering. The trial court properly instructed the jury on felonious breaking and entering...

The trial court’s jury instruction regarding the duty to reach a verdict did not coerce a guilty verdict. The relevant pattern instruction (N.C.P.I.--Crim. 101.35), based on G.S. 15A-1235(a), reads: "All twelve of you must agree to your verdict. You cannot reach a verdict by majority vote. When...

In a case in which the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, the trial court did not err by failing to instruct the jury on second-degree murder. The defendant conceded that the evidence warranted an instruction on first-degree murder. However, he argued that because the evidence...

State v. Foye, 220 N.C. App. 37 (Apr. 17, 2012)

The trial court did not commit plain error in its jury instruction on reasonable doubt. When reinstructing on this issue, the trial court gave the pattern instruction and added: “[r]emember, nothing can be proved 100 percent basically, but beyond a reasonable doubt. So you have to decide for...

(1) The trial court did not abuse its discretion by giving an Allen charge. During the jury’s second day of deliberations in a murder case, it sent a note to the trial judge stating that the jurors could not agree on a verdict. The trial judge inquired as to the numerical division,...

The trial court’s instructions to a deadlocked jury unconstitutionally coerced guilty verdicts. The jury began their initial deliberations and continued deliberating for about three hours. Following a lunch break, the jury resumed deliberations. After an hour the jury sent the following note to...

The trial court did not err by failing to define the term “larceny” for the jury. The court noted that it has previously determined that “larceny” is a word of “common usage and meaning to the general public[,]” and thus it is not error to not define it in the jury instructions. It further noted...

In a burglary case, instructions which allowed the jury to find the defendant guilty if they found that he intended to commit a felony larceny, armed robbery, or sexual offense did not impermissibly allow for a non-unanimous verdict.

In a triple murder case in which the defendant asserted an insanity defense, the trial court did not err by failing to give the defendant’s requested jury instruction on the commitment process and instead instructing the jury on the issue pursuant to N.C.P.J.I—Crim. 304.10. The pattern...

In a case in which the defendant was convicted of second-degree murder, the trial court committed reversible error by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on involuntary manslaughter. The evidence tended to show that the defendant did not intend to kill or seriously injure the...

No plain error occurred when the trial court instructed the jury on the 404(b) evidence using N.C. Pattern Jury Instruction – Crim. 104.15 but declined to instruct that the evidence could not be used to prove defendant’s character or that he acted in conformity therewith.

In a murder case, the trial court did not commit plain error by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of second-degree murder. For reasons discussed in the opinion, the evidence showed that the defendant acted with premeditation and deliberation.

State v. Lawrence, 210 N.C. App. 73 (Mar. 1, 2011) rev’d on other grounds, 365 N.C. 506 (Apr 13 2012)

The evidence was sufficient to warrant an instruction on flight. During the first robbery attempt, the defendant and a co-conspirator fled from a deputy sheriff. During the second attempt, the defendant fled from an armed neighbor. After learning of the defendant’s name and address, an officer...

In a kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder case, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury on flight. The defendant and an accomplice left the victims bound, placed a two-by-four across the inside of the apartment door, hindering access from the outside, and exited through a window....

Upon being notified that the jury was deadlocked, the trial judge did not err by giving an Allen instruction pursuant to N.C. Crim. Pattern Jury Instruction 101.40 and not G.S. 15A-1235, as requested by the defendant. Because there was no discrepancy between the pattern instruction and...

The trial court did not err by declining to instruct the jury on second-degree murder when no evidence negated the State’s evidence of first-degree murder. The defendant argued that the evidence showed that he killed the victim in a “frenzied, crack-fueled explosion” of a long-simmering “rage of...

In a child sexual offense case in which the indictment specified digital penetration and the evidence supported that allegation, the trial court was not required to instruct the jury that it only could find the defendant guilty if the State proved the specific sex act stated in the indictment....

State v. Ross, 207 N.C. App. 379 (Oct. 19, 2010)

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by failing to give an Allen instruction after the jury reported for the third time that it was deadlocked when the trial judge had given such an instruction 45 minutes earlier.

There was sufficient evidence to support an instruction on flight. A masked man robbed a store and left in a light-colored sedan. Shortly thereafter, an officer saw a vehicle matching this description and a high speed chase ensued. The vehicle was owned by the defendant. The driver abandoned the...

In a murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for an alibi instruction. The alibi defense rested on the defendant’s testimony that he did not injure the child victim and that he left the child unattended in a bathtub for an extended period of time while meeting...

The trial judge did not abuse his discretion in giving an Allen instruction. After an hour of deliberation, the jury foreman sent a note stating that the jury was not able to render a verdict and were split 11-1. The trial court recalled the jury to the courtroom and, with the consent...

In an indecent liberties case where the defendant alleged that she did not know the victim’s age, the trial court did not err by declining the defendant’s proposed instruction on willfulness which would have instructed that willfully means something more than an intention to commit the offense...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a voluntary manslaughter instruction. Although the defendant knew that his wife was having sex with other men and she threatened to continue this behavior, the defendant did not find her in the act of intercourse with another or...

In a case in which the defendant was convicted, among other things, of assault with a deadly weapon on a governmental official, the trial court committed plain error by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of misdemeanor assault on a government official. Because the trial...

The court upheld the language in N.C. Criminal Pattern Jury Instruction 101.40, instructing the jury that “it is your duty to do whatever you can to reach a verdict.”

The trial judge did not err by instructing on flight where the defendant failed to appear for a court date in the case.

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