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Tag Archives: Criminal Practice

Criminal Practice – Evidence – Prior Consistent Statement – Shooter’s Identity – Murder – Premeditation & Deliberation – Five Shots   (access required)

State v. Phillpott Defendant argues that a prosecution witness’s out-of-court statement should not have been admitted as a prior inconsistent statement. This argument is without merit because, when considered in context, the out-of-court statement was consistent with the witness’ in-court denial that defendant was the shooter.

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Criminal Practice – Selective Enforcement Defense – Local Politics – SBI & DA – Estoppel – Theft by Employee   (access required)

State v. Pope Even if the initial investigation into defendant’s activities was motivated by local politics, once it was turned over to the SBI to investigate and the district attorney - a state officer, not an agent of the local government - to prosecute, the case was no longer subject to the control of the local government.

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Criminal Practice – Probation Revocation – Constitutional – Right to Counsel – Waiver – Insufficient Judicial Inquiry   (access required)

State v. Sorrow Even though defendant executed two written waivers of counsel, since it does not appear the trial court conducted a thorough inquiry into whether defendant understood and appreciated the consequences of his decision to proceed pro se or whether defendant comprehended the nature of the charges and proceedings and the range of possible punishments, this failure to conduct the mandatory inquiry under G.S. § 15A-1242 is prejudicial error.

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Criminal Practice – Possession of a Controlled Substance at a Prison – Handcuffed Defendant – Jury Instruction – No Prejudice   (access required)

State v. Stanley Although the trial court should have instructed the jury that it was not to consider the fact that defendant was handcuffed when it weighed evidence or determined the issue of guilt, given the evidence against defendant and the trial court’s instruction about incarceration, defendant was not prejudiced by the trial court’s failure to give the instruction about the handcuffs.

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Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Appeals – Prior Record Level – Habitual Felon  (access required)

State v. Mungo Defendant pled guilty, but he contends that (1) “there was insufficient evidence that ... [defendant] understandingly and knowingly entered his plea;”; (2) there was no admissible evidence to support the award of restitution; (3) his prior record level was calculated incorrectly; (4) he was denied effective assistance of counsel due to the trial court’s denial of his motion to continue in order to allow him time to retain counsel; and (5) his constitutional rights to a fair and impartial trial were denied by the trial court’s “inappropriate comments” about his prior record.

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Criminal Practice – Felonious Serious Injury by Motor Vehicle – DWI – Proximate Cause — Speeding to Elude Arrest – Felony – Reckless Driving (access required)

State v. Leonard Although defendant argues that it was his attempt to elude arrest, rather than his drunk driving, that led to the victim’s serious injury, there can be more than one proximate cause of an injury. There was sufficient evidence from which a jury could reasonably find that defendant’s drunk driving was a proximate cause of the victim’s injury: defendant was consuming alcohol on the evening of Jan. 16, 2009; he got into an altercation with his girlfriend and her family, got into his vehicle, drove it into his girlfriend’s car, refused to pull over for the police, drove the car faster than the speed limit, proceeded through a red traffic light, and collided with the victim’s vehicle; officers who responded to the incident said defendant had a strong odor of alcohol and appeared impaired; and defendant stipulated to a blood alcohol concentration of .10. We find no error in defendant’s convictions of felonious serious injury by motor vehicle, felonious operation of a motor vehicle to elude arrest, and misdemeanor hit and run.

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Criminal Practice – Obtaining Property by False Pretense – Circumstantial Evidence – Use of Stolen Credit Card (access required)

State v. Griffin The state presented sufficient circumstantial evidence that defendant obtained property by false pretense: a surveillance video showed defendant taking a purse containing Kathryn Beckham’s credit card at 9:06 a.m.; that credit card was used at 9:30 a.m. to buy a laptop computer at a Wal-Mart only 3.4 miles from the scene of the theft; and the state presented evidence under N.C. R. Evid. 404(b) showing that defendant was involved in a similar crime.

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Criminal Practice – Weapon Possession – Multiple Days & Locations – Recent Possession Doctrine (access required)

State v. Lee Even though only one weapon was involved, defendant used it in nine different locations on 10 different days over the course of a month. Because each possession of the weapon was separate in time and location, the trial court did not err in denying defendant’s motion to dismiss the multiple weapons possession charges. We find no error in defendant’s convictions of 10 counts of armed robbery, seven counts of possession of a weapon of mass death and destruction, and 10 counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.

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Criminal Practice – Murder & Assault – Insanity Defense – Jury Instructions – ‘Wrong’ (access required)

State v. Castillo Defendant did not request a jury instruction differentiating between “legally wrong” and “morally wrong,” and the trial court did not give one. Nevertheless, the question presented to the jury was whether, despite defendant’s knowledge that his intended actions were illegal, he took those actions under a delusion that he was doing so at God’s command, thereby rendering him unable to distinguish between right and wrong.

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