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., 10/18/2021
E.g., 10/18/2021

In a larceny case, the State failed to present sufficient evidence that the defendant was the perpetrator.  The State’s evidence at trial showed that audio equipment had been taken from Manna Baptist Church after the church doors were inadvertently left unlocked following a Wednesday evening...

On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 6 (2018), the Supreme Court determined that the evidence presented at trial supported the defendant’s conviction under the doctrine of recent possession. Pursuant to a tip, a detective discovered stolen...

State v. Jones, 369 N.C. 631 (June 9, 2017)

The evidence was sufficient to support the defendant’s convictions for three counts of felony larceny. The defendant, a truck driver who worked as an independent contractor, was overpaid because a payroll processor accidentally typed “$120,000” instead of “$1,200” into a payment processing...

State v. Jones, 369 N.C. 631 (June 9, 2017)

The evidence was sufficient to support the defendant’s convictions for three counts of felony larceny. The defendant, a truck driver who worked as an independent contractor, was overpaid because a payroll processor accidentally typed “$120,000” instead of “$1,200” into a payment processing...

The court modified and affirmed the decision below, 236 N.C. App. 446 (2014), holding that unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is not a lesser-included offense of possession of a stolen vehicle. The court noted that it has adopted a definitional test (as distinct from a factual test) for...

The court modified and affirmed the decision below, 236 N.C. App. 446 (2014), holding that unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is not a lesser-included offense of possession of a stolen vehicle. The court noted that it has adopted a definitional test (as distinct from a factual test) for...

Reversing State v. Nickerson, 208 N.C. App. 136 (2010), the court held that unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is not a lesser included offense of possession of stolen goods. The court applied the definitional test and concluded that unauthorized use of a motor vehicle contains at...

Reversing State v. Nickerson, 208 N.C. App. 136 (2010), the court held that unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is not a lesser included offense of possession of stolen goods. The court applied the definitional test and concluded that unauthorized use of a motor vehicle contains at...

State v. Tanner, 364 N.C. 229 (June 17, 2010)

Reversing the Court of Appeals and overruling State v. Marsh, 187 N.C. App. 235 (2007), and State v. Goblet, 173 N.C. App. 112 (2005), the Supreme Court held that a defendant who is acquitted of underlying breaking or entering and larceny charges may be convicted of felonious...

The defendant was found guilty at trial in Mecklenburg County of habitual larceny and pled guilty to habitual felon status. On appeal, he argued that a prior conviction for attempted misdemeanor larceny did not qualify as a predicate offense for purposes of the habitual larceny statute. The...

(1) In this Franklin County case, the defendant was convicted of felony larceny pursuant to a breaking or entering, felony larceny of a firearm, firearm by felon, fleeing to elude, and armed robbery. The larceny pursuant to breaking or entering and larceny of a firearm occurred at the same time...

The defendant stole fuel injectors from a salvage yard. Among other issues: (1) The defendant’s indictment for larceny of motor vehicle parts in violation of G.S. 14-72.8 was insufficient. The statute requires that “the cost of repairing the motor vehicle is one thousand dollars . . . or more,”...

In this habitual larceny case where the defendant was sentenced as a habitual felon, the court held that the habitual larceny indictment was not facially invalid for failure to allege all essential elements of the offense.  The defendant argued that the habitual larceny indictment was facially...

An embezzlement indictment was not fatally defective. The indictment alleged that the defendant:

unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did embezzle three thousand nine hundred fifty seven dollars and eighty one cents ($3,957.81) in good and lawful United States...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss charges of possession of stolen goods (a debit card) and possession of marijuana. The State presented substantial evidence establishing constructive possession of both the items. The items were found in close proximity to...

As a matter of legislative intent, the court held that a defendant may not be convicted for both armed robbery and possession of stolen goods taken during the robbery.

The evidence was sufficient to sustain the defendant’s convictions for embezzlement under G.S. 14-90. The defendant, a director of accounting for a Foundation, transferred over $400,000 from the Foundation’s account into her personal account. The defendant asserted that she was not entrusted...

State v. Forte, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 764 (July 3, 2018) review granted, 371 N.C. 779 (Dec 5 2018)

The State conceded and the Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred by entering judgment for eight counts of felony larceny where all of the property was stolen in a single transaction. The court thus vacated seven of the convictions.

In this possession of a stolen motor vehicle case, the trial court’s jury instruction did not contain an incorrect statement of law regarding the element of possession. The evidence tended to show that an officer saw an individual driving a vehicle that was reported stolen. After an accident,...

State v. Campbell, ___ N.C. App. ___, 810 S.E.2d 803 (Feb. 6, 2018) review granted, ___ N.C. ___, 813 S.E.2d 849 (Jun 7 2018)

In a case involving a theft of property from a church, the court held, over a dissent, that the evidence was insufficient to support a larceny conviction. The defendant argued that the State failed to present sufficient evidence that the defendant took the property in question. The evidence...

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...

As conceded by the State, the evidence was insufficient to establish misdemeanor larceny where the defendant was in lawful possession of the property at the time she removed it. After eviction proceedings were instituted against the defendant at one residence, she moved into a new home. Because...

The evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant of larceny of a firearm. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the evidence was insufficient to show that he intended to permanently deprive the victim of a firearm, noting: “Generally, where a defendant takes property from its...

State v. Bacon, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 402 (July 18, 2017) temp. stay granted, ___ N.C. ___, 802 S.E.2d 460 (Aug 4 2017)

Because there was insufficient evidence to establish that the value of the stolen items exceeded $1000, the trial court erred by failing to dismiss a charge of felonious larceny. The items in question, stolen during a home break-in, included a television and earrings. Although the State...

Where there was insufficient evidence as to the ownership of the property in question, a vehicle, the evidence was insufficient to convict the defendant of felony conversion under G.S. 14-168.1. The indictment alleged that the vehicle was owned by a natural person named as Ezuma Igwe but the...

The evidence was sufficient to establish that the defendant constructively possessed two stolen firearms found in a van he had rented. The defendant was convicted of two counts of possession of stolen goods in violation of G.S. 14-71.1. The weapons in question were stolen during two separate...

There was sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of larceny by employee. The victim brought her vehicle in for repairs at an auto shop. The defendant, who was the shop manager, provided an estimate for the work, which the victim accepted. When she was told her vehicle was ready, the victim...

In this armed robbery case, there was sufficient evidence that the defendant committed a taking from the victim’s person or presence. The evidence showed that the defendant and three other men entered a building in the early morning. The armed intruders ordered the occupants to lie face-down on...

The evidence was insufficient to support convictions of felony larceny from the person. Items were stolen from the victims’ purses while they were sleeping in a hospital waiting room. At the time the items were stolen, the purses were not attached to or touching the victims. The court rejected...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that one of the larceny convictions had to be arrested because both occurred as part of a single continuous transaction. The court reasoned that where the takings were from two separate victims, the evidence supported two convictions.

The evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for possession of stolen property. The defendant challenged only the sufficiency of the evidence that he knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that the items were stolen. Here, the defendant had possession of stolen property valued at more...

The trial court erred by sentencing the defendant for both felony larceny and felony possession of stolen goods when both convictions were based on the same items.

The trial court erred by sentencing the defendant for both felony larceny and felony possession of stolen goods when both convictions were based on the same items.

State v. Hole, 240 N.C. App. 537 (Apr. 21, 2015)

Following State v. Ross, 46 N.C. App. 338 (1980), the court held that unauthorized use of a motor vehicle “may be a lesser included offense of larceny where there is evidence to support the charge.” Here, while unauthorized use may have been a lesser included of the charged larceny, the...

State v. Hole, 240 N.C. App. 537 (Apr. 21, 2015)

Following State v. Ross, 46 N.C. App. 338 (1980), the court held that unauthorized use of a motor vehicle “may be a lesser included offense of larceny where there is evidence to support the charge.” Here, while unauthorized use may have been a lesser included of the charged larceny, the...

Shoeprint evidence and evidence that the defendant possessed the victim’s Bose CD changer and radio five months after they were stolen was sufficient to sustain the defendant’s convictions for burglary and larceny.

State v. Hull, 236 N.C. App. 415 (Sept. 16, 2014)

The evidence was sufficient to show that a larceny of a laptop was from the victim’s person. At the time the laptop was taken, the victim took a momentary break from doing her homework on the laptop and she was about three feet away from it. Thus, the court found that the laptop was within her...

The evidence was sufficient to establish that the defendant embezzled funds from a school. The defendant contended that the State failed to offer substantial evidence that she used the school system’s property for a wrongful purpose. The defendant’s responsibilities included purchasing food and...

State v. Fish, 229 N.C. App. 584 (Sept. 17, 2013)

The State presented sufficient evidence that the fair market value of the stolen boat batteries was more than $1,000 and thus supported a conviction of felony larceny.

The trial court erred by sentencing the defendant for both larceny from the person and larceny of goods worth more than $1,000 based on a single larceny. Larceny from the person and larceny of goods worth more than $1,000 are not separate offenses, but alternative ways to establish that a...

A larceny was from the person when the defendant stole the victim’s purse, which was in the child’s seat of her grocery store shopping cart. At the time, the victim was looking at a store product and was within hand’s reach of her cart; additionally she realized that the larceny was occurring as...

There was sufficient evidence of embezzlement where the defendant, a bookkeeper controller for the victim company, was instructed to close the company’s credit cards but failed to do so, instead incurring personal charges on the cards and paying the card bills from company funds. The court...

The evidence was insufficient to adjudicate the thirteen-year-old juvenile delinquent for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Although the evidence showed that the juvenile was operating a motor vehicle registered to his mother, there was no evidence that he was using the vehicle without his...

In a felony larceny case, there was sufficient evidence that a stolen vehicle was worth more than $1,000. The value of a stolen item is measured by fair market value and a witness need not be an expert to give an opinion as to value. A witness who has knowledge of value gained from experience,...

(1) Forgery and larceny of a chose in action are not mutually exclusive offenses. The defendant argued that both forgery and uttering a forged check require a counterfeit instrument while larceny of a chose in action requires a “valid instrument.” The court concluded that larceny of a chose in...

In a felony larceny case, there was sufficient evidence that the goods were valued at more than $1,000 where the victim testified that $500 in cash and a laptop computer valued at least at $600 were taken.

(1) In an embezzlement case in which the defendant was alleged to have improperly written company checks to herself, there was sufficient evidence that the defendant was an agent of the company and not an independent contractor. Two essential elements of an agency relationship are the authority...

In a possession of stolen property case, the evidence was insufficient to establish that the defendant constructively possessed the jewelry at issue. The necessary “other incriminating circumstances” for constructive possession could not be inferred from the fact that the defendant was a high-...

The court held that there was sufficient evidence to sustain the defendant’s conviction for possession of a stolen vehicle, rejecting the defendant’s argument that he did not have reason to believe the vehicle was stolen, in part because the defendant’s own statements indicated otherwise.

Following State v. Nickerson, 365 N.C. 279 (2011), the court held that unauthorized use is not a lesser included offense of possession of stolen property.

Following State v. Nickerson, 365 N.C. 279 (2011), the court held that unauthorized use is not a lesser included offense of possession of stolen property.

The trial court erred in convicting the defendant of two counts of possession of a stolen firearm under G.S. 14-71.1. It stated: “While defendant did possess the two separate stolen firearms, we hold that defendant may not be convicted on separate counts for each firearm possessed.

In a possession of stolen goods case, the evidence was insufficient to establish that the defendant knew that the item at issue, a four-wheeler, was stolen. Distinguishing State v. Lofton, 66 N.C. App. 79 (1984), the court noted, among other things, that the cosmetic changes to the four...

The evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction for receiving goods explicitly represented as stolen by a law enforcement officer. No specific words are required to be spoken to fulfill the “explicitly represented” element of the offense. Rather the statute “merely requires that a person...

A defendant may not be convicted of both felony larceny and felonious possession of the same goods.

A defendant may not be convicted of both felony larceny and felonious possession of the same goods.

In a case involving felonious breaking or entering, larceny, and possession of stolen goods, there was sufficient evidence of possession. The defendant’s truck was parked at the residence with its engine running; items found in the truck included electronic equipment from the residence; a man...

In a possession of stolen property case, the trial court committed reversible error by instructing the jury on constructive possession. The property, a vehicle stolen from a gas station, was found parked on the street outside of the defendant’s residence. The defendant claimed that unknown to...

A defendant may not be sentenced for both robbery and possession of stolen property taken during the robbery.

The evidence was insufficient to establish that the defendant knew a gun was stolen. Case law establishes that guilty knowledge can be inferred from the act of throwing away a stolen weapon. In this case, shortly after a robbery, the defendant and an accomplice went to the home of the accomplice...

There was sufficient evidence that a stolen truck was worth more than $1,000. The sole owner purchased the truck new 20 years ago for $9,000.00. The truck was in “good shape”; the tires were in good condition, the radio and air conditioning worked, and the truck was undamaged, had never been in...

State v. Patterson, 194 N.C. App. 608 (Jan. 6, 2009) overruled on other grounds, 368 N.C. 83 (Jun 11 2015)

The doctrine of recent possession applied to a video camera and a DVD player found in the defendant’s exclusive possession 21 days after the break-in.

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