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.

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E.g., 06/14/2024
E.g., 06/14/2024

In this Haywood County case, the Supreme Court reversed a unanimous Court of Appeals decision and reinstated defendant’s conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon. 

In April of 2018, defendant was pulled over for driving with a permanently revoked license. During the stop, the...

State v. Mercer, 373 N.C. 459 (Feb. 28, 2020)

Confronting a question of first impression, the court held that “in narrow and extraordinary circumstances” the common law defense of justification may be an affirmative defense to a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon under G.S. 14-415.1.  Noting that justification is an affirmative...

The court per curiam affirmed the decision below, Johnston v. State, 224N.C. App. 282 (Dec. 18, 2012), which reversed the trial court’s ruling that G.S. 14-415.1 (proscribing the offense of felon in possession of a firearm) violated the plaintiff’s substantive due process rights under...

With one justice taking no part in consideration of the case, an equally divided court left undisturbed the following opinion below, which stands without precedential value:

Baysden v. North...

State v. Bradshaw, 366 N.C. 90 (June 14, 2012)

Affirming an unpublished opinion below, the court held that the trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss charges of trafficking by possession and possession of a firearm by a felon. The State presented sufficient evidence to support the jury’s determination that the...

Affirming State v. Whitaker, 201 N.C. App. 190 (Dec. 8, 2009), the court held that G.S. 14-415.1, the felon in possession statute, was not an impermissible ex post facto law or bill of attainder.

The court held that G.S. 14-415.1 (felon in possession), as applied to the plaintiff, was unconstitutional. In 1979, the plaintiff was convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and deliver, a nonviolent crime that did not involve the use of a firearm. He completed his...

In this Rutherford County case, defendant appealed his convictions for possession of a firearm by felon, possession of methamphetamine, and attaining habitual felon status, arguing error in (1) denying his motion to dismiss based on insufficient evidence he possessed the firearm and drugs, (2)...

In this Guilford County case, defendant appealed his convictions for breaking and entering, larceny, possession of a firearm by a felon, and resisting a public officer, arguing error in (1) denying his request for a jury instruction on voluntary intoxication, and (2) not specifically identifying...

In this Brunswick County case, defendant appealed his conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon, arguing error in the denial of his motion to dismiss for insufficient evidence. The Court of Appeals found no error. 

In June of 2020, deputies with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s...

In this Nash County case, defendant appealed his conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon, arguing insufficient evidence to establish his constructive possession of the firearm. The Court of Appeals agreed, reversing and remanding for resentencing. 

In May of 2020, a problem...

Officers responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle found the defendant and a female passenger parked in a white pickup truck on the side of the road. When an officer asked if there was anything illegal in the vehicle, the defendant replied “you know I like my pot.” The passenger...

(1) The State and the defendant’s version of events were inconsistent. For purposes of determining the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a jury instruction on justification, the Court of Appeals recounted the defendant’s version of events. The defendant was in David Harrison’s trailer...

Defendant was indicted for first-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a felon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of attempted robbery with a deadly weapon, and attaining habitual felon status. At trial, he was convicted...

The defendant was indicted for possession of a firearm—specifically, “a New England Firearms Pardner Model 12 Gauge Shotgun”—by a person previously convicted of a felon. The defendant initially told officers, who were investigating a report of a domestic dispute at the defendant’s home, that he...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the evidence was insufficient to support an instruction on actual possession of the firearm in question. Actual possession requires that a party have physical or personal custody of the item. The case arose out of a drug transaction between an...

In this possession of methamphetamine and felon in possession of a firearm case, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury that the defendant’s status as the driver of a stopped vehicle was sufficient to support an inference that he constructively possessed both methamphetamine and a...

In a case where the defendant was convicted of felon in possession of a firearm, the court rejected his argument that the felony possession statute was unconstitutional as applied to him. The court began by rejecting the defendant’s federal constitutional claim, noting that because he is a...

In this felon in possession case, there was insufficient evidence that the defendant possessed the rifle in question. While attempting to locate the defendant, deputies established a perimeter around a large section of woods and deployed a canine, Max, to track human sent in the area. Following...

State v. McKiver, 247 N.C. App. 614 (May. 17, 2016) rev’d on other grounds, 369 N.C. 652 (Jun 9 2017)

The court held that the trial court did not err in denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of felon in possession of a firearm, rejecting the defendant’s argument that there was insufficient evidence establishing that he had constructive possession of the weapon. The evidence showed,...

The court rejected the defendant’s contention that the possession of a firearm by a felon statute was unconstitutional as applied to him. Although rejecting the defendant’s challenge, the court agreed that the trial court erred when it found that the defendant’s 1995 Texas drug trafficking...

In a possession of a firearm by a felon case, the State failed to produce sufficient evidence that the defendant had constructive possession of the rifle. The rifle, which was registered to the defendant’s girlfriend was found in a car registered to the defendant but driven by the girlfriend....

The trial court erred by dismissing a charge of felon in possession of a firearm on the basis that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to the defendant under a Britt analysis. Here, the defendant had two felony convictions for selling a controlled substance and one for felony...

Following State v. Jeffers, 48 N.C. App. 663, 665-66 (1980), the court held that G.S. 15A-928 (allegation and proof of previous convictions in superior court) does not apply to the crime of felon in possession of a firearm.

G.S. 14-415.1(a), proscribing the offense of felon in possession of a firearm, does not apply to the plaintiff, who had received a Pardon of Forgiveness from the NC Governor for his prior NC felony. The court relied on G.S. 14-415.1(d), which provides in part that the section does not apply to a...

In a felon in possession case, there was sufficient evidence that the defendant had constructive possession of the firearm. The defendant was driving a rental vehicle and had a female passenger. The gun was in a purse in the car’s glove container. The defendant was driving the car and his...

(1) In a felon in possession case, evidence that the defendant was “playing with” the guns in question “likely” constituted sufficient evidence to support an instruction on actual possession of the guns. (2) The trial court erred by instructing the jury on constructive possession of the guns....

(1) For purposes of a felon in possession charge, the evidence was insufficient to establish that the defendant possessed a firearm found along the route of his flight by vehicle from an officer. The defendant fled from an officer attempting to make a lawful stop. The officer did not see a...

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant constructively possessed a gun found in a van to support charges of carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon. The fact that the defendant was the driver of the van gave rise to an inference of possession. Additionally,...

The evidence was sufficient to support multiple counts of possession of a weapon of mass death and destruction and possession of a firearm by a felon. The defendant had argued that the evidence was insufficient to support multiple charges because it showed that a single weapon was used, and did...

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant constructively possessed the firearm. The defendant was identified as having broken into a house from which a gun was stolen. The gun was found in a clothes hamper at the home of the defendant’s ex-girlfriend’s mother. The defendant had arrived at...

The trial court erred by granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss an indictment charging felon in possession of a firearm on grounds that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to him. The defendant’s motion was unverified, trial court heard no evidence, and there were no clear...

The felon in possession statute does not authorize multiple convictions and sentences for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon predicated on evidence that the defendant simultaneously obtained and possessed one or more firearms, which he or she used during the commission of multiple...

There was sufficient evidence of constructive possession. When a probation officer went to the defendant’s cabin, the defendant ran away; a frisk of the defendant revealed spent .45 caliber shells that smelled like they had been recently fired; the defendant told the officer that he had been...

Following State v. Little, 191 N.C. App. 655 (2008), and State v. Jackson, 139 N.C. App. 721 (2000), and holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State to introduce evidence of the defendant’s prior conviction in a felon in possession case where...

The evidence was sufficient to establish possession supporting convictions of felon in possession and carrying concealed where the defendant ran through a field in a high traffic area, appeared to have something heavy in his back pocket and to make throwing motions from that pocket, and a clean...

There was sufficient evidence of constructive possession to sustain conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon. 

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