Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that Defendant received adequate notice of his probation revocation hearing pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1345(e). The trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and activated suspended sentences for crimes Defendant committed in August and September 2012. Defendant appealed, arguing that the probation violation reports filed by the State relating to Defendant’s probation for the August and September crimes, arguing that they did not give him adequate notice because they did not specifically state the condition of probation that Defendant allegedly violated. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court upheld the revocation of Defendant’s probation, holding (1) the “statement of the violations alleged” requirement in section 15A-1345(e) is satisfied by a statement of the actions that a defendant has allegedly taken that constitute a violation of a condition of probation; and (2) the probation violation reports in this case included a list of the criminal offenses that Defendant allegedly committed, and that list provided a statement of alleged acts by Defendant that, if proved, would violate a probation condition, as required by section 15A-1345(e). View "State v. Moore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals vacating Defendant’s conviction for first-degree sexual offense and remanding the matter for a new trial on the charge and reinstated Defendant’s conviction. The court of appeals concluded that there was insufficient evidence to submit to the jury an instruction on the theory that Defendant committed a first-degree sexual offense by being aided and abetted by another individual in the commission of the sexual act. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that, based upon the court’s enunciated test used to establish the principle of aiding and abetting, the evidence was sufficient to allow the jury to be instructed on the theory of aiding and abetting because the evidence supported the conclusion that Defendant was aided and abetted by at least one other individual even where Defendant was the only individual in the room with the victim when the incident occurred. View "State v. Dick" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this appeal from criminal convictions, the Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by overruling Defendant’s objection to alleged misstatements of law contained in the prosecutor’s final argument to the jury and that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s request that the jury be instructed that the “oral intercourse” element of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor involves “penetration, however slight.” The Supreme Court held (1) the challenged prosecutorial argument was erroneous, but the error was not prejudicial; and (2) the trial court did not err by refusing to deliver Defendant’s requested “oral intercourse” instruction. View "State v. Fletcher" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals vacating Defendant’s conviction for committing the felony of habitual misdemeanor larceny and remanding the case for resentencing based upon a misdemeanor larceny conviction. The court of appeals based its decision on the grounds that the indictment returned against Defendant was fatally defective. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals and instructed that court to reinstate the judgment of the trial court, holding that because Defendant did not challenge before the trial court the failure of the indictment returned against her to comply with the separate indictment provision set out in N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-928, Defendant was not entitled to seek relief based upon that indictment-related deficiency for the first time on appeal. View "State v. Brice" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing an order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress and vacating Defendant’s guilty plea. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence derived from a search of the car he was driving after he was pulled over for traffic violations, arguing that the search violated the Fourth Amendment. The trial court denied the motion to suppress. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the traffic stop had been unlawfully prolonged under the standard that the United States Supreme Court set out in Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. __ (2015). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the stop was not unlawfully prolonged under the standard set forth in Rodriguez. View "State v. Bullock" on Justia Law

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The indictment returned for the purpose of charging Defendant with the offense of robbery with a dangerous weapon was fatally defective because it did not sufficiently allege all of the essential elements of the offense. Defendant was convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon. The Court of Appeals arrested judgment with respect to the charge of robbery with a dangerous weapon, concluding that the indictment intended to charge Defendant with robbery with a dangerous weapon was fatally defective because it failed to name any dangerous weapon that Defendant allegedly employed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the indictment was fatally defective because it failed to allege sufficiently that Defendant possessed, used, or threatened to use a dangerous weapon. View "State v. Murrell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was subjected to a custodial interrogation as defined in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), when police questioned him while he was confined under a civil commitment order, and therefore, the failure of police to advise him of his Miranda rights rendered inadmissible the incriminating statements he made during the interrogation. The trial court concluded otherwise and denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was subsequently convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress and vacated his conviction, holding that the trial court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress was an erroneous application of the law and that the error was prejudicial. View "State v. Hammonds" on Justia Law

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In this criminal case, the prosecutor’s comments in his closing argument were improper but did not amount to prejudicial error in light of the evidence against Defendant, and therefore, the trial judge did not err by failing to intervene ex mero motu in the prosecutor’s closing arguments. The court of appeals vacated Defendant’s conviction and ordered a new trial, concluding that the prosecutor’s statements had the cumulative effect of resulting in unfair prejudice to Defendant, and therefore, the trial court erred by failing to intervene ex mero motu. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the prosecutor’s statements were improper; but (2) the statements were not so grossly improper as to prejudice Defendant’s due process rights. View "State v. Huey" on Justia Law

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The superior court correctly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was pulled over for driving at an unsafe speed given the road conditions and cited for driving while impaired. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, which the superior court ultimately denied. Defendant eventually pleaded guilty to driving while impaired while preserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the traffic stop was unconstitutional because the police officer who pulled Defendant over did not have reasonable suspicion to do so. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the traffic stop was constitutional because the officer had reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was convicted, after a jury trial, of attempted first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense with a child, and kidnapping. Defendant appealed, arguing that his motion “for an instruction” was clearly a request for a limiting instruction regarding N.C. R. Evid. 404(b) evidence that had just been presented by the State’s witness. The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s convictions and remanded the matter to the trial court for a new trial. The Supreme Court modified in part the judgment of the court of appeals and affirmed, holding (1) defense counsel’s motion “for an instruction” was plain a request for a Rule 404(b) limiting instruction; and (2) Defendant was prejudiced by the trial court’s failure to give the requested limiting instruction, thus entitling him to a new trial. View "State v. Watts" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law