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Criminal Practice – Possession of a Firearm by a Felon – Parole Officer’s Testimony – Relevance


Defendant challenges the relevance of his parole officer’s testimony indicating that defendant was a “high risk offender” and mentioning the discovery of drugs in the room where defendant was found. Such testimony was relevant as “chain of circumstances” evidence.

We find no error in defendant’s convictions of possession of a firearm by a felon and attaining habitual felon status.

Officer Johnson’s testimony regarding his role as an intelligence officer, including a description of the class of individuals he supervises, provides context as to why Officer Johnson was assigned to supervise defendant and, in that capacity, conduct a search of defendant’s apartment. Officer Johnson’s references to defendant’s prior conviction, high risk status, and noncompliance with the terms of his post-release supervision provides context regarding the purpose of the search that led to the discovery of the gun, which served as the basis of the charged crime. Moreover, the evidence forms part of the history of the event and provides context for the reason the search was focused on weapons and drugs.

Likewise, Officer Johnson’s testimony regarding the evidence obtained during the search, including the possible presence of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, serves to enhance the natural development of the facts. Officer Johnson’s testimony was relevant because it established the sequence of events surrounding the commission of the crime of possession of firearm by felon.

In any event, defendant was not prejudiced by the mention of drugs, given that (1) defendant himself testified that he had been convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of cocaine and (2) the trial court instructed the jury that it could only consider defendant’s prior convictions as they bore on his truthfulness.

Before the trial court, defendant argued only that, because defendant was found in a room that was not his usual bedroom, his parole officer was only authorized to search defendant’s person for dangerous articles. When the state clarified that, as a discretionary condition of defendant’s parole, officers were authorized to search defendant’s person, vehicle and premises, defendant appeared to concede this issue. Moreover, defendant made no argument before the trial court regarding the constitutionality of the search under the Fourth Amendment. Accordingly, defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his current argument that the warrantless search of the room where he was found, which was not based on reasonable suspicion, was not lawful under G.S. § 15A-1358.4 or the Fourth Amendment.

No error.


(Murphy, J.) Although I would hold all of the challenged evidence to be irrelevant, I agree with the majority that defendant has not demonstrated the requisite prejudice for a new trial under our plain error standard of review.

State v. Givens (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-353-20, 23 pp.) (Linda McGee, C.J.) (Hunter Murphy, J., concurring in part and concurring in the result only in part) Appealed from Mecklenburg County Superior Court (J. Thomas Davis, J.) Joseph Finarelli and William Harkins for the state; Lisa Miles for defendant. N.C. App. Unpub.

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