Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility


Mar 28, 2022

Habitual felon sentence didn’t transform underlying crimes 

A habitual felon sentencing enhancement doesn’t reclassify underlying felonies to higher-level felonies, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has unanimously ruled in a case of first impression, finding that a trial court erroneously applied a further sentencing enhancement for serious sexual offenders to a man whose sentence for a low-level felony was enhanced because he […]

Oct 11, 2018

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Aggravating Factor – Position of Trust – Sex Offense with a Child

Even though the three-year-old victim only interacted with defendant in person on two occasions, the jury could find that he took advantage of a position of trust and confidence to commit a sex offense against her because the victim was very dependent on her mother, who was in a relationship with defendant. We find no […]

Sep 20, 2018

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Juvenile Offender – Life without Parole – First Impression

Where the trial court found that “there is no certain prognosis” for defendant’s potential for rehabilitation, defendant – who was 17 when he committed the two murders at issue – does not fall within the class of juvenile offenders who are “irreparably corrupt” and “permanently incorrigible” and who may therefore be sentenced to life without […]

Apr 9, 2018

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Marijuana Possession – Second Conviction – Habitual Felon

Where defendant had previously been convicted of a marijuana possession offense, and where he had attained the status of a habitual felon, his current marijuana possession conviction – normally punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor – is punishable as a Class E felony. G.S. § 90-95 does not merely increase the punishment for a subsequent […]

Apr 4, 2018

Criminal Practice – New test established to invoke sentencing relief

An appellant seeking habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 satisfied the requirements of the law’s savings clause because a retroactive change in 4th Circuit law – occurring after the time for direct appeal and the filing of his first § 2255 motion – rendered his applicable mandatory minimum unduly increased, resulting in a fundamental […]

Feb 28, 2018

Criminal Practice – Voluntary Manslaughter – Assisted Suicide – Sentencing – No Extraordinary Factors

Holding: A victim’s consent to the crime is listed as a mitigating factor in the sentencing statute, and defendant argues that the trial court believed that the victim’s consent to her own death, regardless of its significance, could never be considered an extraordinary mitigating factor. However, the record makes clear that the trial court understood […]

Dec 14, 2017

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Procedurally Unreasonable – Downward Departure Arguments

United States v. Blue (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-216-17, 13 pp.) (Roger Gregory, C.J.) 16-4537; Dec. 12, 2017; USDC at Greensboro, N.C. Holding: In imposing a within-Guidelines sentence on defendant for armed robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, the district court made cursory reference to two of defendant’s arguments for a downward […]

Oct 31, 2017

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Prior Conviction – AISBI – Crime of Violence

United States v. Thompson (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-192-17, 10 pp.) (Diana Gribbon Motz, J.) 15-4685; Oct. 26, 2017; USDC at Raleigh, N.C. (W. Earl Britt, S.J.) 4th Cir. Holding: Under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), when considering whether a prior crime constitutes a crime of violence under the residual clause of […]

Oct 31, 2017

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Child Pornography Possession – Downward Departure – Autism Diagnosis

United States v. Zuk (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-191-17, 26 pp.) (Paul Niemeyer, J.) 16-4727; Oct. 24, 2017; USDC at Statesville, N.C. (Richard Voorhees, J.) 4th Cir. Holding: The trial judge abused his discretion when, based almost entirely on consideration of defendant’s recent autism diagnosis, he dramatically departed from the USSG recommendation of 240 months and […]

Oct 24, 2017

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Prior Conviction – Crime of Violence – W.Va. Aggravated Robbery

United States v. Salmons (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-184-17, 10 pp.) (J. Harvie Wilkinson III, J.) No. 16-4316; Oct. 12, 2017; USDC at Charleston, W.Va. (Thomas Johnston, C.J.) 4th Cir. Holding: At the time of defendant’s West Virginia conviction for aggravated robbery, that crime was defined as the successful or attempted commission of a “robbery by […]

Oct 5, 2017

Criminal Practice – Within-Policy-Statement-Range Sentence – Nonfrivolous Arguments – Court’s Failure to Explain Reasons

  U.S. v. Slappy (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-181-17, 19 pp.) (Gregory, C.J.) (Shedd, J., dissenting) No. 16-4010, Sept. 22, 2017. Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Wilmington. (Fox, S.J.) 4th Cir. Holding: Where the defendant-offender presented arguments in favor of a within-policy-statement-range sentence and the district court […]

Sep 21, 2017

Criminal Practice – Jury Instructions – Alibi Defense – Ineffective Assistance Claim – No Prejudice – Sentencing – Attorney’s Fees

State v. Harris (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-296-17, 20 pp.) (Linda McGee, C.J.) Appealed from Carteret County Superior Court (Arnold Jones II, J.) N.C. App. Holding: Defendant argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel neglected to inform the state that he would provide an alibi defense; however, the trial court never ordered defendant […]

Top Legal News

See All Top Legal News


See All Commentary