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

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., 06/17/2022
E.g., 06/17/2022

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 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 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,...

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-...

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...

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...

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...

State v. Oates, 366 N.C. 264 (Oct. 5, 2012)

The court reversed State v. Oates, 215 N.C. App. 491 (Sept. 6, 2011), and held that the State’s notice of appeal of a trial court ruling on a suppression motion was timely. The State’s notice of appeal was filed seven days after the trial judge in open court orally granted the defendant...

State v. Salinas, 366 N.C. 119 (June 14, 2012)

Modifying and affirming State v. Salinas, 214 N.C. App.408 (Aug. 16, 2011) (trial court incorrectly applied a probable cause standard instead of a reasonable suspicion standard to a vehicle stop), the court held that the trial court may not rely on allegations contained in a defendant’s...

State v. Lewis, 365 N.C. 488 (Apr. 13, 2012)

Affirming the court of appeals, the court held that on a retrial the trial court erred by applying the law of the case and denying the defendant’s motion to suppress. At the defendant’s first trial, he unsuccessfully moved to suppress the victim’s identification as unduly suggestive. That issue...

Stat v. Phillips, 365 N.C. 103 (June 16, 2011)

The court rejected the capital defendant’s argument that the trial court’s findings of fact as to whether he had consumed impairing substances before making an incriminating statement to the police were insufficient. The court reviewed the trial court’s detailed findings and found them...

In this Hoke County case, defendant Stanley Draughon was found guilty by a jury of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill inflicting serious injury (AWDWIKISI) and conspiracy to commit AWDWIKISI, and defendant Phyllis Mull was found guilty of conspiracy to commit AWDWIKISI....

The defendant was stopped in Cleveland County for driving left of center and driving without an active license. The officer recognized the defendant and knew her to be involved in drugs. While running license and warrants checks, the officer asked to search the car. The defendant refused....

In this case involving possession of a firearm by a felon and carrying a concealed weapon, (1) binding caselaw required that the defendant’s conviction for felon in possession be vacated because the indictment was fatally defective; and (2) the trial court’s ruling on the defendant’s motion to...

On remand from the North Carolina Supreme Court, this Alamance County case involved a medical blood draw from a defendant suspected of driving while impaired and second-degree murder. The Court of Appeals previously determined that the seizure of the defendant’s medical records without a...

In this Chatham County case, the State appealed from an order suppressing DNA evidence. The defendant was serving a life sentence for felony murder stemming from a robbery and killing in 1975. In 2008, the Court of Appeals ruled that inmates serving life under the Fair Sentencing Act were...

In a prior decision, State v. Swain, 259 N.C. App. 253 (2018) (“Swain I”), the defendant appealed the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress. The defendant argued that the cocaine discovered in this drug trafficking case was based on a...

The defendant was charged with impaired driving, was convicted in district court, appealed to superior court, and prevailed on a motion to suppress at a pretrial hearing in superior court. The State appealed. (1) The Court of Appeals rejected the State’s argument that the superior court judge...

An officer patrolling the parking area of a park just before closing discovered the defendant asleep in her car. Based on the defendant’s positioning, he was concerned there might be a medical emergency, so he knocked on the window of her car. After he knocked several times, the defendant sat up...

The defendant was arrested for impaired driving. Because of his extreme intoxication, he was taken to a hospital for medical treatment. The defendant was belligerent and combative at the hospital, and was medicated in an effort to calm his behavior. After the defendant was medically subdued, a...

Officers obtained a search warrant to search the defendant’s house. They executed the warrant, found drugs, and charged the defendant with drug offenses. The defendant moved to suppress, arguing that the warrant contained material misrepresentations and did not provide probable cause to support...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the findings and conclusions made by the trial court from the bench with respect to his motions to suppress are insufficient because the trial court expressly ordered the State to prepare written orders on the motions but the State failed to do so...

At a suppression hearing, the trial court may consider testimony from an officer about a vehicle stop that includes material information not contained in the officer’s contemporaneous reports. On the date of the traffic stop, Trooper Myers—the stopping officer--made handwritten notes in an...

Because the trial court failed to provide its rationale for denying the defendant’s motions to suppress, the court found itself unable to engage in meaningful review with respect to the trial court’s denial of the motions and thus remanded. Although the trial court is only required to make...

Because the trial court summarily denied the defendant’s motion to suppress, a full hearing with sworn testimony was not required under G.S. 15A-977 (motion to suppress procedure). The defendant’s own affidavit clearly laid out facts establishing that the officer had reasonable suspicion to...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress filed under G.S. 15A-980. The defendant argued for suppression of a conviction used in two habitual misdemeanor assault indictments on grounds that it was obtained in violation of his right to counsel. At hearing on the...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress as untimely under G.S. 15A-976 where the defendant failed to file the motion within the requisite time following receipt of the State’s notice.

The trial court’s order denying the defendant’s motion to suppress in this traffic stop case contained inadequate conclusions of law concerning the validity of the traffic stop. The trial court’s sole conclusion of law is better characterized as a statement of law. A conclusion of law requires...

In a case where the defendant pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement without notifying the State of his intent to appeal the suppression ruling and failed to timely file a notice of intent to appeal, the court dismissed the defendant’s untimely appeal and his petition for writ of certiorari....

On the State’s appeal from a trial court order granting the defendant’s motion to suppress, the court vacated and remanded for new findings of fact and if necessary, a new suppression hearing. After being shot by police, the defendant was taken to the hospital and given pain medication. He then...

The denial of a motion to suppress does not preserve the issue for appellate review in the absence of a timely objection made when the evidence is introduced at trial.

Because the trial court provided the rationale for its ruling on the defendant’s motion to suppress from the bench and there were no material conflicts in the evidence, the trial court was not required to enter a written order.

Although the trial court made findings of fact in its order denying the defendant’s suppression motion, it erred by failing to make conclusions of law. The court remanded for appropriate conclusions of law.

(1) The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress statements to officers on grounds that they were obtained in violation of G.S. 15A-501(2) (arrested person must be taken before a judicial official without unnecessary delay). After a consensual search of his residence...

The trial court erred by failing to issue a written order denying the defendant’s motion to suppress. A written order is necessary unless the court announces its rationale from the bench and there are no material conflicts in the evidence. Here, although the trial court announced its ruling from...

The trial court did not impermissibly place the burden of proof on the defendant at a suppression hearing. Initially the burden is on the defendant to show that the motion is timely and in proper form. The burden then is on the State to demonstrate the admissibility of the challenged evidence....

A trial court’s order denying a motion to suppress is not invalid merely because the trial court did not make its findings immediately after the suppression hearing where the trial court later made the required findings. 

(1) Although a trial court may summarily deny or dismiss a suppression motion for failure to attach a supporting affidavit, it has the discretion to refrain from doing so. (2) In granting the defendant’s motion to suppress, the trial judge erred by failing to make findings of fact resolving...

In granting the defendant’s motion to suppress, the trial judge erred by failing to make findings of fact resolving material conflicts in the evidence. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court “indirectly provided a rationale from the bench” by stating that the motion was...

The trial court was not required to make written finding of fact supporting its denial of a suppression motion where the trial court provided its rationale from the bench and there were not material conflicts in the evidence.

In re N.J., 221 N.C. App. 427 (June 19, 2012)

The district court erred by failing to make findings of fact or conclusions of law in connection with its ruling on the juvenile’s motion to suppress in violation of G.S. 15A-977, where the trial court failed to provide its rationale for denying the motion. 

The trial court abused its discretion by summarily denying the defendant’s motion under G.S. 15A-980 for suppression, in connection with sentencing, of a prior conviction which the defendant alleged was obtained in violation of her right to counsel. The trial court dismissed the motion as an...

The defendant gave sufficient notice of his intent to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress so as to preserve his right to appeal. The State had argued that defense counsel’s language was not specific enough to put the trial court and prosecution on notice of his intention to appeal the...

Although there was no material conflict in the evidence as to whether the defendant was impaired when he made a statement, the court held, over a dissent, that there was a material conflict as to whether he was in custody and that the trial court erred by failing to make the necessary findings...

By orally denying the defendant's motion to suppress, the trial court failed to comply with G.S. 15A-977(f)’s requirement that it enter a written order with findings of fact resolving material conflicts in the evidence. The statute mandates a written order unless the trial court provides its...

Any alleged violation of the New Jersey constitution in connection with a stop in that state leading to charges in North Carolina, provided no basis for the suppression of evidence in a North Carolina court.

The trial court erred by failing to make findings of fact and conclusions of law in connection with its denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress. When a trial court’s failure to make findings of fact and conclusions of law is assigned as error, the trial court’s ruling on a motion to...

The defendant’s motion to suppress his statement made during a police interview was untimely. The motion was not made until trial and there was no argument that the State failed to disclose evidence of the interview or statement in a timely manner.

The defendant’s motion to suppress was untimely where the defendant had approximately seven weeks of notice that the State intended to use the evidence, well more than the required 20 working days.

Remanding for a new suppression hearing where the trial court failed to provide any basis or rationale for its denial of the defendant’s suppression motion. The court “again urge[d] the trial courts . . . to remember ‘it is always the better practice to find all facts upon which the...

State v. Wade, 198 N.C. App. 257 (July 21, 2009)

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion to renew his suppression motion in light of an officer’s trial testimony. There was no additional relevant information discovered during trial that required reconsideration of the motion to suppress.

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