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., 07/25/2024
E.g., 07/25/2024
Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U.S. 323 (Jan. 26, 2009)

Summarizing existing law, the Court noted that a “stop and frisk” is constitutionally permissible if: (1) the stop is lawful; and (2) the officer reasonably suspects that the person stopped is armed and dangerous. It noted that that in an on-the-street encounter, the first requirement—a lawful...

State v. Johnson, 378 N.C. 236 (Aug. 13, 2021)

An officer on patrol ran the license plate of the car the defendant was driving and discovered that the license plate was registered to another car. The officer initiated a traffic stop. As the officer approached the driver’s side of the car, he noticed that the defendant had raised his...

State v. Bullock, 370 N.C. 256 (Nov. 3, 2017)

On an appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 785 S.E.2d 746 (2016), the court reversed, concluding that the stop at issue was not unduly prolonged. An officer puller over the defendant for several traffic violations. During the traffic stop that ensued, officers...

State v. Morton, 363 N.C. 737 (Dec. 11, 2009)

For reasons stated in a dissent to the opinion below, the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeals ruling that the trial judge erred by concluding that a frisk was justified because officers had reasonable suspicion to believe that the defendant was armed or dangerous. The...

In this Vance County case, the state appealed from an order granting defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized from his person and inside a house. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the matter to the trial court. 

While attempting to arrest defendant for an outstanding warrant...

In this New Hanover County case, defendant appealed his conviction for possessing a firearm as a felon, arguing error in the denial of his motion to suppress and improper sentencing. The Court of Appeals found no error.  

In February of 2020, a Wilmington police officer observed defendant...

The defendant was stopped by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer for a broken taillight and a passenger seatbelt violation. A second officer arrived shortly after the stop. The stopping officer saw an approximately five-inch closed pocketknife in the center console between the driver and...

A police offer stopped at a gas station for a cup of coffee, and on his way inside he noticed the defendant standing outside the gas station, talking loudly and using abusive language on his cell phone. The clerk inside told the officer she thought the defendant was bothering other customers....

In this possession of a firearm by a felon case, the trial court did not err by allowing evidence of a handgun a police officer removed from the defendant’s waistband during a lawful frisk that occurred after a lawful stop. Police received an anonymous 911 call stating that an African-American...

(1) In this drug trafficking case, the officer had reasonable suspicion to extend a traffic stop. After Officer Ward initiated a traffic stop and asked the driver for his license and registration, the driver produced his license but was unable to produce a registration. The driver’s license...

Even if the defendant had properly preserved the issue, a frisk conducted during a valid traffic stop was proper where the officer knew that the defendant had prior drug convictions; the defendant appeared nervous; the defendant deliberately concealed his right hand and refused to open it...

The trial court improperly denied the defendant’s motion to suppress. An officer saw the defendant walking in the middle of the street. The officer stopped the defendant to warn him about impeding the flow of street traffic. After issuing this warning, the officer frisked the defendant because...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that an officer’s discovery of drugs in his buttocks occurred during a separate, second search after a pat down was completed. The drugs were found during a valid pat down for weapons.

An officer had a reasonable, articulable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot when he detained the defendant. After 10 pm the officer learned of a report of suspicious activity at Auto America. When the officer arrived at the scene he saw the defendant, who generally matched the...

In re D.B., 214 N.C. App. 489 (Aug. 16, 2011)

The trial court erred by admitting evidence obtained by an officer who exceeded the proper scope of a Terry frisk. After the officer stopped the juvenile, he did a weapons frisk and found nothing. When the officer asked the juvenile to identify himself, the juvenile did not respond....

State v. King, 206 N.C. App. 585 (Aug. 17, 2010)

An officer had reasonable suspicion to believe that the defendant was armed and dangerous justifying a pat-down frisk. Around midnight, the officer stopped the defendant’s vehicle after determining that the tag was registered to a different car; prior to the stop, the defendant and his passenger...

On remand, the court held that officers did not exceed the scope of the frisk by confiscating a digital scale from the defendant’s pocket. An officer testified that he knew the object was a digital scale based on his pat-down without manipulation of the object and that individuals often carry...

An officer had reasonable suspicion to frisk the defendant after stopping him for a traffic violation. Even though the officer could see something in the defendant’s clenched right hand, the defendant stated that he had nothing in his hand; the defendant appeared to be attempting to physically...

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