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Tag Archives: Criminal Practice

Criminal Practice – Bond Forfeiture – Administrative Order – Deferred Prosecution Agreement (access required)

State v. Harrison After defendant entered into a May 18, 2009 deferred prosecution agreement, his bond was forfeited when he failed to appear on May 28, 2010. Even though the senior resident superior court judge had issued an administrative order decreeing that, “the obligations of a bondsman or other surety pursuant to any appearance bond for pretrial release are, and shall be, terminated immediately upon the entry of the State and the Defendant into a formal Deferred Prosecution Agreement"...

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Criminal Practice – Possession of a Stolen Vehicle – Knowledge – Statement to Police (access required)

State v. Oliver Drug addicts rent out their cars for cash to support their drug habits. According to defendant’s testimony, he believed he was renting such a car, and he did not suspect it was stolen until a police officer suggested this possibility. However, in his statement to police, defendant admitted to believing the car was stolen for some time before a police officer pulled him over.

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Criminal Practice – Guilty Plea – Aggravating Factors – Aggravated Sentence – Restitution – Vacated (access required)

State v. Rico Even though the parties’ plea agreement included a sentence in the aggravated range, defendant’s original aggravated sentence was invalid as a matter of law because the trial judge imposed the sentence simply because it was called for by the plea agreement. The judge failed to make any findings as to aggravating factors and failed to exercise his discretion in determining whether an aggravated sentence was appropriate, as required by the Structured Sentencing Act. The judgment against defendant is vacated and remanded.

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Criminal Practice – Statutory Rape & Sex Offense – Anal Penetration – SBM – DSS ‘Substantiation’ Evidence (access required)

State v. Sprouse The minor victim, A.B., testified that defendant “inserted his penis ... into [her] butt,” however slightly; that the incident was painful; and that A.B. wiped blood from the area immediately after the incident. A.B.’s testimony was substantial evidence from which a jury could find that defendant penetrated the anal opening during the incident. The trial court correctly denied defendant’s motion to dismiss one charge of statutory sex offense and one charge of sexual activity by a substitute parent based on the incident.

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Criminal Practice – Brady — Bullet Lead Analysis – Public Domain Critiques — Effective Assistance (access required)

U.S. v. Higgs A North Carolina death-row defendant convicted of kidnapping and murdering three women in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge cannot win post-conviction relief on a claim that the government failed to disclose before trial two FBI studies that undermined the government’s use of Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis that linked bullets used in the women’s murder and in other shootings to bullets found in defendant’s apartment...

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Criminal Practice – New Trial – Death Penalty – Mentally Retarded Defendant (access required)

Elmore v. Ozmint A mentally retarded African-American handyman who was 23 years old when he was accused of the 1982 murder of a 75-year-old wealthy white woman for whom he did odd jobs is entitled to a new trial, as his trial lawyers’ “blind acceptance of the State’s forensic evidence” demonstrated constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel, says the 4th Circuit in a 2-1 split.

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Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Enhancement – Prior Conviction – Sexual Abuse (access required)

U.S. v. Spence The 4th Circuit upholds an enhanced sentence for a defendant convicted of possession of child pornography, based on his prior conviction under South Carolina common law for “assault and battery of a high aggravated nature”; the district court did not err in holding that the prior conviction qualified as a predicate offense under the sexual abuse enhancement under 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(b)(2).

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Sufficient Evidence – Premeditation & Deliberation (access required)

State v. Patel The state presented evidence that, before the victim’s murder, defendant threatened her and choked her twice. On the morning of the murder, defendant purchased a gas can and gas after speaking with the victim, who had told others she was going to call defendant about going to pick up belongings at his apartment. When defendant returned to his apartment and spoke again with the victim at 10:34, he immediately then called to cancel a 1:30 appointment. Viewed in the light most favorable to the state, this conduct before the murder constitutes evidence of premeditation and deliberation.

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Criminal Practice – Juvenile — Alford Admission – Colloquy with Judge (access required)

In re C.L. The record indicates that the juvenile was adequately apprised of the consequences of making his Alford admission, understood what would happen if he persisted in making such an admission, and made an “informed choice” to admit responsibility pursuant to Alford instead of asserting the rights that would have been available to him had he gone to hearing. The trial court’s failure to make the inquiry specified in G.S. § 15A-1022(d) neither affected the juvenile’s decision to plead nor undermined the plea‘s validity.

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Criminal Practice – Second-Degree Burglary – Jury Instructions – Different Theories – Voluntary Intoxication – Sentencing – Accessory – Possession of Firearms (access required)

State v. Surrett The trial court instructed the jury that, even though defendant did not actually break into the victims’ trailer, the jury could find defendant guilty of second-degree burglary under any of three legal theories: acting in concert, aiding and abetting, and accessory before the fact. The separate theories of guilt were not separate offenses but merely different methods under which the jury could find defendant guilty of second-degree murder.

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