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., 12/06/2022
E.g., 12/06/2022

In this Buncombe County case, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ determination that the trial court lacked a factual basis to accept the defendant’s guilty plea, but modified the holding of the Court of Appeals by vacating the plea arrangement and remanding for...

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant committed multiple assaults against his girlfriend and the Court was equally divided as to whether there was sufficient evidence to establish that the defendant used his hands, feet, or teeth as deadly weapons.  The Court characterized “the...

With one justice not participating in the case and the remaining six justices divided equally, the decision of the Court of Appeals was left undisturbed and stands without precedential value. The decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 843 S.E.2d 700 (2020), was previously...

State v. Fields, 374 N.C. 629 (June 5, 2020)

The defendant was convicted after a jury trial of habitual misdemeanor assault and felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury for the same assaultive act. The trial court imposed consecutive sentences. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by sentencing him for...

State v. Floyd, 369 N.C. 329 (Dec. 21, 2016)

The Court of Appeals improperly found that attempted assault is not a recognized criminal offense in North Carolina. The court rejected the notion that attempted assault is an “attempt of an attempt.” Thus, a prior conviction for attempted assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury...

State v. Wilkes, 367 N.C. 116 (Oct. 4, 2013)

The court per curiam affirmed the decision below, State v. Wilkes, 225 N.C. App. 233 (Jan. 15, 2013), in which the court of appeals had held, over a dissent, that the State presented substantial evidence supporting two separate assaults. The defendant attacked his wife with his hands....

In this Craven County case, defendant was convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon, resisting a public officer, injury to personal property, and going armed to the terror of the public for defendant’s actions in an apartment complex parking lot. On appeal, the Court of Appeals determined...

In this discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle while in operation case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss for insufficient evidence.  Evidence at trial tended to show that the defendant fired a pistol at the victim’s truck and struck a toolbox...

The defendant was convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and seven counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle based on an incident in which he chased two women from his house and fired at the car of a Good Samaritan who stopped...

In this case involving convictions for first-degree kidnapping and misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, among other offenses, the State presented sufficient evidence of the offenses and the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss on that basis.  With regard to...

The defendant was convicted by a jury of assault inflicting serious bodily injury and assault on a female based on an argument and fight with the mother of his child. He pushed her down, threw her head into the concrete, punched her, dragged her, and flung her onto the hood of a car. Among other...

After getting into an argument at a holiday party, the defendant fired a warning shot from a rifle into the air and then fired a single shot into a moving vehicle occupied by two people, striking one of them in the neck and seriously injuring him. Defendant was subsequently convicted and...

A defendant cannot be convicted of two assault offenses (here, assault by pointing a gun and assault with a deadly weapon) based on a single assault. For a defendant to be charged with multiple counts of assault, there must be multiple assaults; this requires evidence of a distinct interruption...

The evidence was sufficient to support a conviction of discharging a weapon into occupied property. The defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to show that the defendant knew that the property was occupied when he shot into the house. Here, an eyewitness testified that before...

State v. Fields, ___ N.C. App. ___, 827 S.E.2d 120 (Apr. 16, 2019) aff'd on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Jun 5 2020)

In an assault inflicting serious bodily injury case involving the defendant’s assault on a transgender woman, A.R., the evidence was sufficient to establish that serious bodily injury occurred. A.R.’s injury required stitches, pain medication, time off from work, and modified duties once she...

The evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury. On appeal the defendant challenged only the element of serious bodily injury. As a result of the assault, the victim suffered from difficulty swallowing, numerous lacerations, a concussion,...

A defendant may not be convicted of assault with a deadly weapon under G.S. 14-32 and assault on a child under G.S. 14-33 based on the same incident. G.S. 14-33 states that a defendant shall be guilty of assault on a child unless another statue provides harsher punishment for the same conduct....

The trial court did not err by sentencing the defendant for both of assault on a female and assault by strangulation. Prefatory language in G.S. 14-33(c) provides that “Unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment,” assault on a female is punished...

Because misdemeanor larceny and simple assault are lesser included offenses of common law robbery, the trial court erred by sentencing the defendant for all three offenses. The court rejected the State’s argument that the defendant was not prejudiced by this error because all three convictions...

(1) The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of assault on a law enforcement officer inflicting serious bodily injury. The defendant asserted that he only used the amount of force reasonably necessary to resist an unlawful arrest. In the case, the officer...

(1) The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury on victim Stokes. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State was required to prove that the defendant specifically...

The trial court erred by imposing sentences for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and assault inflicting serious bodily injury based on the same incident. The statute proscribing the lesser of the two offenses, a Class F felony, includes the following...

The trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss charges of assault inflicting serious bodily injury where there was insufficient evidence that the officer sustained serious bodily injury from the defendant’s bites. There was insufficient evidence of a permanent or protracted...

The evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for assault on a government officer under G.S. 14-33(c)(4). While attempting to separate the defendant from other individuals, the defendant spit at people walking behind the officer, hitting the officer with his spit. The defendant argued that...

(1) The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of discharging a firearm into occupied property. The trial court improperly instructed the jury that it had to find that the defendant knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that the dwelling was ...

In a discharging a barreled weapon into occupied property case, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury that because the crime was a general intent crime, the State need not prove that the defendant intentionally discharged the fireadisrm into occupied property, and that it needed...

In a case with multiple victims, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State’s evidence was too vague for the jury to infer that he pointed the gun at any particular individual. One witness testified that upon defendant’s orders, “everybody ran in the room with us … and he was...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a diminished capacity instruction with respect to a charge of discharging a firearm into occupied property that served as a felony for purposes of a felony-murder conviction. Because discharging a firearm into occupied property...

The evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for discharging a firearm into occupied property (a vehicle), an offense used to support a felony-murder conviction. The defendant argued that the evidence was conflicting as to whether he fired the shots from inside or outside the vehicle....

With regard to a felony-murder charge, the evidence was sufficient to show the underlying felony of discharging a firearm into occupied property (here, a vehicle). The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the evidence failed to establish that he was outside of the vehicle when he shot...

(1) Under State v. Tirado, 358 N.C. 551, 579 (2004) (trial court did not subject the defendants to double jeopardy by convicting them of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury (AWDWIKISI) arising from the same conduct...

The trial court did not err by convicting the defendant of both robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault with a deadly weapon where each conviction arose from discrete conduct.

The trial court erred by sentencing the defendant for both assault inflicting serious bodily injury under G.S. 14-32.4(a) and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury under G.S. 14-32(b), when both charges arose from the same assault. The court reasoned that G.S. 14-32(b) prohibits...

In this malicious maiming case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by disjunctively instructing the jury that it could convict him if it found that he had “disabled or put out” the victim’s eye. Relying on cases from other jurisdictions, the court held that...

The trial court erred by sentencing the defendant for both habitual misdemeanor assault and assault on a female where both convictions arose out of the same assault. The statute provides that “unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment,” an...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss the charge of assault causing physical injury on a law enforcement officer, which occurred at the local jail. After arresting the defendant, Captain Sumner transported the defendant to jail,...

(1) The evidence was sufficient to establish that the defendant inflicted serious bodily injury on the victim. The beating left the victim with broken bones in her face, a broken hand, a cracked knee, and an eye so beat up and swollen that she could not see properly out of it at the time of...

The defendant could not be convicted and sentenced for both assault inflicting serious bodily injury and assault on a female when the convictions were based on the same conduct. The court concluded that language in the assault on a female statute (“[u]nless the conduct is covered under some...

The evidence was sufficient to show an assault with intent to kill an officer when, after having fatally shot eight people, the defendant ignored the officer’s instructions to drop his shotgun and continued to reload it. The defendant then turned toward the officer, lowered the shotgun, and...

No violation of double jeopardy occurred when the trial court sentenced the defendant for three counts of discharging a firearm into occupied property. Although the three gunshots were fired in quick succession, the bullet holes were in different locations around the house’s front door area. The...

The evidence was sufficient to establish assault by strangulation. The victim testified that the defendant strangled her twice; the State’s medical expert testified that the victim’s injuries were consistent with strangulation; and photographic evidence showed bruising, abrasions, and a bite...

The defendant was properly convicted of two counts of malicious conduct by a prisoner when he twice spit on an officer while officers were attempting to secure him. The defendant had argued that only conviction was proper because his conduct occurred in a continuous transaction. The court found...

There was sufficient evidence of an intent to kill when during a robbery the defendant fired a gun beside the store clerk’s head and the clerk testified that he thought the defendant was going to kill him.

In a habitual misdemeanor assault case, the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that the defendant’s assault under G.S. 14-33 must have inflicted physical injury. However, given the uncontroverted evidence regarding the victim’s injuries, the error did not rise to the level of...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of attempted malicious castration of a privy member. The victim was the son of the woman with whom the defendant lived; a doctor found 33 injuries on the victim’s body, including a 2.5 inch laceration on his penis...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of assault by strangulation on the same victim. The defendant argued that because his obstruction of the victim’s airway was caused by the defendant’s hand over the victim’s nose and mouth, rather than “external...

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 did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of assault with deadly weapon with intent to kill, over the defendant’s argument that there was insufficient evidence of an intent to kill. This charge was based on the defendant’s use of a bat to assault his wife...

(1) A defendant may be convicted of assault by strangulation and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury where two incidents occurred. The fact that these assaults were part of a pattern of chronic child abuse does not mean that they are considered one assault. (2) The State...

Given the manner of its use, there was sufficient evidence that a kitchen table chair was a deadly weapon.

State v. Hope, 223 N.C. App. 468 (Nov. 20, 2012)

In an assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury case, the defendant is not entitled to a simple assault instruction where the deadly weapon element is left to the jury but there is uncontroverted evidence of serious injury.

In a discharging a firearm into occupied property case, a residence was occupied when the family was on the front porch when the weapon was discharged.

Assault on a female is not a lesser-included of first-degree sexual offense.

In an assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury case, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury that three gunshot wounds to the leg constituted serious injury. The victim was shot three times, was hospitalized for two days, had surgery to remove a bone fragment from his...

There was a sufficient factual basis to support a plea to assault on a handicapped person where the prosecutor’s summary of the facts indicated that the victim was 80 years old, crippled in her knees with arthritis, and required a crutch to walk; the defendant told the victim that he would kill...

There was sufficient evidence that a lawn chair was a deadly weapon for purposes of assault. The victim was knocked unconscious and suffered multiple facial fractures and injuries which required surgery; after surgery his jaw was wired shut for weeks and he missed 2-3 weeks of work; and at trial...

No double jeopardy violation occurred when the defendant was convicted of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious bodily injury based on the same events. Each offense includes an element not included in the other.

Based on the manner of its use, a car was a deadly weapon as a matter of law. The court based its conclusion on the vehicle’s high rate of speed and the fact that the officer had to engage in affirmative action to avoid harm.

In a maiming without malice case, the evidence was sufficient to show that the defendant intended to strike the victim’s finger with the intent to disable him. The intent to maim or disfigure may be inferred from an act which does in fact disfigure the victim, unless the presumption is rebutted...

The trial court did not err by instructing the jury that a pickaxe was a deadly weapon. The pickaxe handle was about 3 feet long, and the pickaxe weighed 9-10 pounds. The defendant swung the pickaxe approximately 8 times, causing cuts to the victim’s head that required 53 staples. She also...

In re N.T., 214 N.C. App. 136 (Aug. 2, 2011)

The evidence was insufficient to support an adjudication of delinquency based on assault by pointing a gun where the weapon was an airsoft gun from which plastic pellets were fired using a “pump action” mechanism. For purposes of the assault by pointing a gun statute, the term “gun” “encompasses...

Citing State v. Washington, 141 N.C. App. 354 (2000), the court held that the defendant was properly charged and convicted of attempted murder and assault as to each victim, even though the offenses arose out of a single course of conduct...

(1) This crime is a general intent crime; it does not require the State to prove any specific intent to shoot into the vehicle but only that the defendant intentionally fire a weapon under such circumstances where he or she had reason to believe the conveyance that ended up being shot was...

(1) There was sufficient evidence that the victim suffered serious injury. The defendant shot the victim with a shotgun, causing injuries to the victim’s calf and 18-20 pellets to lodge in his leg, which did not fully work themselves out for six months. One witness testified that the victim had...

The trial court did not commit plain error by peremptorily instructing the jury that multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body would constitute serious injury. The victim required emergency surgery, was left with scars on his chest, shoulder, back and neck, and a bullet remained in his neck,...

The trial court did not err by failing to instruct on the lesser-included offense of assault with a deadly weapon to the charge on assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. After a beating by the defendant, the victim received hospital treatment, had contusions and bruises on her...

The evidence was insufficient to establish that a secret assault occurred. In the middle of the night, the victim heard a noise and looked up to see someone standing in the bedroom doorway. The victim jumped on the person and hit him with a chair. The victim was aware of the defendant’s presence...

The trial court did not err by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury to the charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. The defendant broke into a trailer in the middle of...

State v. Starr, 209 N.C. App. 106 (Jan. 4, 2011) aff'd on other grounds, 364 N.C. 314 (Dec 9 2011)

In a case involving assault on a firefighter with a firearm, there was sufficient evidence that the defendant committed an assault. To constitute an assault, it is not necessary that the victim be placed in fear; it is enough if the act was sufficientto put a person of reasonable firmness in...

The trial judge committed prejudicial error with respect to its instruction on the intent element for the charges of assault with a deadly weapon, in a case in which a vehicle was the deadly weapon. In order for a jury to convict of assault with a deadly weapon, it must find that it was the...

The evidence was sufficient to establish serious injury where the defendant had a three-inch knife during the assault; the victim bled “a lot” from his wounds, dripping blood throughout the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen; the victim was on the floor in pain and spitting up blood when the officer...

The evidence was sufficient to establish that the knife used in the assault was a deadly weapon where a witness testified that the knife was three inches long and the victim sustained significant injuries.

The evidence was insufficient to support a conviction where the state failed to produce evidence that the assault was done in a secret manner. To satisfy this element, the state must offer evidence showing that the victim is caught unaware.

The evidence was sufficient to establish that the defendant emitted bodily fluids where it showed that he spit on an officer. The evidence was sufficient to show that the defendant acted knowingly and willfully where the defendant was uncooperative with the officers, was belligerent towards them...

A defendant may not be convicted of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and assault inflicting serious bodily injury arising out of the same conduct.

The vehicle at issue was not a deadly weapon as a matter of law where there was no evidence that the vehicle was moving at a high speed and given the victim’s lack of significant injury and the lack of damage to the other vehicle involved, a jury could conclude that the vehicle was not aimed...

(1) The evidence was sufficient to establish assault by strangulation; the victim told an officer that she felt that the defendant was trying to crush her throat, that he pushed down on her neck with his foot, that she thought he was trying to “chok[e] her out” or make her go unconscious, and...

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant’s hands were a deadly weapon as to one victim when the evidence showed that the defendant was a big, stocky man, probably larger than the victim, who was a female and a likely user of crack cocaine, and the victim sustained serious injuries. There...

Only a barreled weapon must meet the velocity requirements of G.S. 14-34.1(a) (capable of discharging shot, bullets, pellets, or other missiles at a muzzle velocity of at least 600 feet per second); a firearm does not.

(1) There was sufficient evidence of serious bodily injury with respect to one victim where the victim suffered a cracked pelvic bone, a broken rib, torn ligaments in her back, a deep cut over her left eye, and was unable to have sex for seven months; the eye injury developed an infection that...

There was sufficient evidence that a 70-year-old victim suffered from a protracted condition causing extreme pain supporting a charge of assault inflicting serious bodily injury when the facts showed: the victim had dried blood on her lips and in her nostrils and...

State v. Davis, 197 N.C. App. 738 (July 7, 2009) aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 364 N.C. 297 (Aug 27 2010)

Committing a violation of G.S. 20-138.1 (impaired driving) constitutes culpable negligence as a matter of law sufficient to establish the requisite intent for assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

The defendant and an accomplice, both female, assaulted a male with fists and tree limbs. The two females individually, but not collectively, weighed less than the male victim, and both were shorter than him. They both were convicted of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. The...

Assault is not a lesser-included offense of sexual battery.

Assault is not a lesser-included offense of sexual battery.

The defendant and his accomplice discussed intentionally forcing drivers off the road in order to rob them and one of them then deliberately threw a very large rock or concrete chunk through the driver’s side windshield of the victim’s automobile as it was approaching at approximately 55 or 60...

There was sufficient evidence of an intent to kill and the weapon used was deadly as a matter of law. The defendant was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and other offenses. There was sufficient evidence of an intent to kill where the...

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