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Tag Archives: Criminal Practice

Criminal Practice – Plain Error Standard – Jury Instructions – Armed Robbery & Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery – No Prejudice (access required)

State v. Lawrence When the trial judge instructed the jury on the charge of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, he erroneously omitted the element that the weapon must have been used to endanger or threaten the life of the victim. However, the judge had already correctly instructed the jury on the charge of armed robbery.

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Criminal Practice – Evidence – Investigator’s Bias – Jury Tampering (access required)

State v. Lewis A deputy sheriff who knew a little about defendant’s case – including that defendant had failed a polygraph – was on the jury at defendant’s original trial. During that trial, the lead investigator on the case – a prosecution witness and a professional colleague of the juror – remarked to the juror that a deputy sitting on the jury would “do the right thing,” followed immediately by a reminder that defendant had failed a polygraph test. The investigator unmistakably indicated to the juror that, as a fellow member of the sheriff’s department, he should find defendant guilty. The investigator’s conduct was calculated to harm defendant at trial.

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Criminal Practice – Dismissal – Search & Seizure – Motion to Suppress (access required)

State v. Joe After the trial court granted defendant’s motions to dismiss the charge of resisting a public officer and to suppress evidence seized in his post-arrest search, the state announced to the trial court that it “would be unable to proceed with the case in chief” on the remaining charges of cocaine possession and attainment of habitual felon status. We do not agree with our Court of Appeals that the prosecutor’s statements amounted to a dismissal in open court; furthermore, the trial court had no authority to enter an order dismissing the remaining charges on its own motion.

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Criminal Practice – Murder Convict – ‘Stalking’ – 30 Years – Former Girlfriend – Constitutional – Vagueness Challenge – Firearms Charges (access required)

U.S. v. Shrader A man who terrorized a former high-school girlfriend for more than three decades, and who served time in prison for killing her mother and a friend and wounding a neighbor as the woman fled her West Virginia home in 1975, cannot overturn his conviction on federal firearms charges and for stalking the woman and her husband after his release from prison; the 4th Circuit says the federal stalking statute is not unconstitutionally vague for an alleged failure to define “harass” and “intimidate.”

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Criminal Practice – Registered Sex Offender – Elementary School Premises – Insufficient Indictment (access required)

State v. Harris Even though the indictment alleged that defendant was required to register as a sex offender, since it did not allege that the registration requirement was based on a conviction for an offense set out in G.S. Chapter 14, Article 7A or an offense involving a victim who was under the age of 16, then the indictment failed to allege the essential elements of being a sex offender unlawfully on the premises of a place intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors in violation of G.S. § 14-208.18. An allegation that defendant’s conduct was “unlawful” does not cure the deficiency in the indictment.

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Criminal Practice – Motion for Appropriate Relief – New Trial – Newly Discovered Evidence – Drug Possession – Father’s Admission (access required)

State v. Rhodes At defendant’s trial for drug possession, defendant’s father “plead the Fifth” when he was asked whether the drugs belonged to him, and defendant’s mother refused to testify against her husband. After defendant was convicted and placed on probation, defendant’s father admitted that the drugs were his. The judge who presided over defendant’s trial and motion for appropriate relief correctly found that the father’s admission was newly discovered evidence warranting a new trial.

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Criminal Practice Subject Matter Jurisdiction – Flawed Indictment – Removal of Anti-Theft Device – ‘Merchandise’ – Too Vague – Attempted Larceny (access required)

State v. Justice The indictment against defendant alleged that she “did remove a component of an anti-theft or inventory control device to prevent the activation of the anti-theft or inventory control device. This act was committed in an effort to steal merchandise from Belks of Hendersonville, NC.”

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