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., 10/26/2021
E.g., 10/26/2021

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. 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. 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...

State v. Sellars, 363 N.C. 112 (Mar. 20, 2009)

The court affirmed a ruling of the North Carolina Court of Appeals finding no error in the defendant’s trial and sentence. However, it rejected the implication in the court of appeals’ opinion that a jury’s determination that a defendant is not insane resolves the presence or absence of the...

In this Iredell County case, the defendant pled guilty to assault inflicting serious bodily injury for a crime in which the victim suffered a fractured skull and other injuries, leaving him partially paralyzed and suffering from dementia. At sentencing, the defendant admitted to an aggravating...

In July 2016, the defendant was the executive director of a nonprofit when she informed the board of directors that the nonprofit was out of money. Between 2012 and 2016, the balance of the nonprofit’s account had gone from $400,000 to $400. The SBI discovered $410,203.41 in unauthorized...

The defendant was stopped by a state trooper who saw her driving erratically. The defendant smelled of alcohol, had slurred and mumbled speech, and stumbled and staggered when she got out of her car. She registered a positive result on a portable breath test and was arrested for driving...

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.

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The defendant was convicted of financial card theft and sentenced to a suspended sentence of 8 to 19 months imprisonment and 24 months supervised probation. Defendant’s sentence was based on the aggravating factor in G.S. 15A-1340.16(d)(12a), which requires the State to prove that within 10...

Because the defendant waived his right to have a jury determine the presence of an aggravating factor, there was no error with respect to the defendant’s sentence. The defendant was arrested for selling marijuana on 7 August 2015. He was arrested a second time for the same conduct on 15 October...

In a case involving convictions for attempted first-degree murder, statutory sex offense with a child by an adult, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, first-degree kidnapping, and taking indecent liberties with a child, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s...

In this violation of a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) case, the trial court did not err by sentencing the defendant within the aggravated range based in part on the G.S. 15A-1340.16(d)(15) statutory aggravating factor (the “defendant took advantage of a position of trust or confidence...

(1) No violation of due process occurred when the defendant was sentenced in the aggravated range where proper notice was given and the jury found an aggravated factor (that the defendant committed the offense while on pretrial release on another charge). (2) Because G.S. 15A-1340.16 (aggravated...

In this felony child abuse case the trial court erred by failing to provide an adequate instruction on the especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel (EHAC) aggravating factor. Rather than adapting the EHAC pattern instruction used in capital cases or providing any “narrowing definitions” that are...

In this rape case involving an 82-year-old victim, the court rejected defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that it could not use the same evidence to find both the element of mental injury for first-degree rape and the aggravating factor that the victim...

In this sexual assault case, the State was not excused by G.S. 130A-143 (prohibiting the public disclosure of the identity of persons with certain communicable diseases) from pleading in the indictment the existence of the non-statutory aggravating factor that the defendant committed the sexual...

Because there was an insufficient factual basis to support an Alford plea that included an admission to aggravating factors, the court vacated the plea and remanded for proceedings on the original charge. The defendant was charged with the first-degree murder of his wife. He entered an...

State v. Hurt, 235 N.C. App. 174 (July 15, 2014)

In this murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss for insufficient evidence as to the aggravating factor that the offense was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel. Relying on prior N.C. Supreme Court case law, the court rejected the defendant’s...

Trial court erred by finding a statutory aggravating factor where the evidence used to support the G.S. 15A-1340.16(d)(8) aggravating factor (knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person by means of a weapon or device which would normally be hazardous to the lives of more than...

State v. Wilkes, 225 N.C. App. 233 (Jan. 15, 2013) aff’d per curiam, 367 N.C. 116 (Oct 4 2013)

The trial court erred by sentencing the defendant in the aggravated range without considering uncontradicted evidence of a mitigating factor. One judge declined to reach this issue.

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by finding that one aggravating factor outweighed six mitigating factors.

State v. Rico, 218 N.C. App. 109 (Jan. 17, 2012) rev’d on other grounds, 366 N.C. 327 (Dec 14 2012)

(1) Even though the defendant pleaded guilty to a crime and admitted an aggravating factor pursuant to a plea agreement, the trial judge still was required to find that an aggravating factor existed and that an aggravated sentence was appropriate. Failure to do so rendered the sentence invalid...

In a case in which the defendant was charged with killing his infant son, the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury, as provided in G.S. 15A-1340.16(d), that evidence necessary to prove an element of the offense may not be used to prove a factor in aggravation. After the jury found...

State v. Ross, 216 N.C. App. 337 (Oct. 18, 2011)

The trial court erred by submitting to the jury three aggravating factors that had not been alleged in the indictment as required by G.S. 15A-1340.16(a4). The three aggravating factors were that the defendant used a firearm equipped with an unregistered silencing device; the defendant's conduct...

There was sufficient evidence supporting the trial judge’s submission of the G.S. 15A-1340.16(d)(6) aggravating factor (offense against a law enforcement officer, etc. while engaged in the performance of or because of the exercise of official duties.) to the jury. Subsection (d)(6)'s "engaged in...

Where the trial court determined that one aggravating factor (heinous, atrocious or cruel) outweighed multiple mitigating factors, it acted within its discretion in sentencing the defendant in the aggravated range.

The defendant was improperly sentenced in the aggravated range when the State did not provide proper notice of its intent to present evidence of aggravating factors as required by G.S. 15A-1340.16(a6). The court rejected the State’s argument that a letter regarding plea negotiations sent by the...

The evidence was sufficient to support the aggravating factor that the offense committed was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel. The defendant assaulted his 72-year-old grandmother, stabbing her, striking her in the head, strangling her, and impaling her with a golf club shaft eight inches...

State v. Davis, 208 N.C. App. 26 (Nov. 16, 2010)

The trial court did not violate G.S. 15A-1340.16(d) (evidence necessary to prove an element of the offense may not be used to prove any factor in aggravation) by submitting, in connection with assault with a deadly weapon charges, the aggravating factor that the defendant “knowingly created a...

In a sexual assault case involving a 13-year-old victim, the evidence was insufficient to establish aggravating factor G.S. 15A-1340.16(d)(15) (took advantage of a position of trust or confidence, including a domestic relationship). The defendant was the stepfather of the victim’s friend. The...

Rejecting the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by not holding a separate sentencing proceeding for aggravating factors.

There was sufficient evidence to establish the aggravating factor that the defendant had previously been adjudicated delinquent for an offense that would be a B2 felony if it had been committed by an adult. The evidence of that prior adjudication was a Transcript of Admission from the juvenile...

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