Case Summaries: N.C. Court of Appeals (April 16, 2024)
North Carolina Criminal Law
by Alex Phipps
3h ago
This post summarizes the published criminal opinions from the North Carolina Court of Appeals released on April 16, 2024. These summaries will be added to Smith’s Criminal Case Compendium, a free and searchable database of case summaries from 2008 to the present. Odor of marijuana plus a cover scent provided adequate probable cause to search vehicle. State v. Dobson, COA23-568, ___ N.C. App. ___ (April 16, 2024). In this Guilford County case, defendant appealed after his guilty pleas to possession of a firearm by a felon and carrying a concealed firearm, arguing error in denying his motion to ..read more
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Case Summaries: Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (March 2024)
North Carolina Criminal Law
by Phil Dixon
1d ago
This post summarizes a published criminal law released by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals during March 2024. Cases of potential interest to state practitioners are summarized monthly. Previous summaries of Fourth Circuit cases are available here. Failure to disclose change in witness’s statement before trial and failure to correct the witness’s misleading statements at trial was not material under the facts of the case and did not justify post-trial relief U.S. v. George, 95 F.4th 200 (March 11, 2024). The defendant was tried before a jury and convicted of possession of a firearm and ammun ..read more
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Plain Feel, Pill Bottles, and Probable Cause: State v. Jackson
North Carolina Criminal Law
by Phil Dixon
2d ago
A common point of confusion among law enforcement and the public is about the use of unlabeled pill bottles. Is it legal to possess prescription medicine in a container other than the original bottle with the prescription affixed? Does discovering an unlabeled pill bottle justify seizing and searching it to see if it contains contraband? Can a pill bottle be removed from a pocket during a frisk based on plain feel? Does it provide reasonable suspicion or probable cause to search or arrest a suspect? A case decided by the Court of Appeals earlier this month, State v. Jackson, No. COA23-727; ___ ..read more
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Statutory Rights to Appeal Orders in Delinquency Matters: What, When, Who, and Impact on Juvenile Court
North Carolina Criminal Law
by Jacquelyn Greene
3d ago
The right to appeal an order in a delinquency matter is established in G.S. 7B-2602 (Right to appeal) and G.S. 7B-2603 (Right to appeal transfer decision). These statutes do not identify every order that is entered in a delinquency action. Instead, there is a right to appeal after entry of specified final orders and any order transferring jurisdiction to superior court for trial as an adult. This post explains when there is a statutory right to appeal an order in a delinquency matter, who has the right to appeal, and restrictions on juvenile court jurisdiction while an appeal is pending. The R ..read more
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News Roundup
North Carolina Criminal Law
by Jeff Welty
5d ago
Nationally, the biggest criminal law story this week was the sentencing of James and Jennifer Crumbley. They’re the parents of Ethan Crumbley, who was a student at Oxford High School in Michigan in 2021 when he murdered four classmates and injured seven other people in a mass shooting. James and Jennifer Crumbley were each convicted, in separate trials, of four counts of involuntary manslaughter as a result of their son’s acts. The prosecution contended that they ignored a host of warning signs about Ethan’s mental state and ultimately enabled the shooting by purchasing him a handgun. This wee ..read more
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Does Waiver by Conduct Remain a Third Way to Lose the Right to Representation?
North Carolina Criminal Law
by Shea Denning
5d ago
The North Carolina Court of Appeals first recognized the concept of waiver by conduct in State v. Blakeney, 245 N.C. App. 452 (2010). There, the Court set forth three ways in which a criminal defendant might lose his right to representation by counsel: (1) the defendant may knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive the right to counsel; (2) the defendant may engage in such serious misconduct that he forfeits the right to counsel; and (3) following a warning that the defendant may lose his right to representation if he continues to engage in dilatory tactics, the defendant continues to en ..read more
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Spring 2024 Cannabis Update (Part II)
North Carolina Criminal Law
by Phil Dixon
1w ago
In Part I of my Spring 2024 cannabis update, I discussed the search and seizure issues arising in North Carolina courts around cannabis. Part II explores drug identification evidence issues surrounding marijuana prosecutions and examines potential challenges defenders might raise. This post will also cover recent developments on the state, federal, and tribal levels impacting cannabis. Lay Opinions Identifying Marijuana. Under precedent pre-dating the legalization of hemp, a trained officer’s lay opinion that a substance is marijuana based on its sight or smell is sufficient to prove the ident ..read more
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One Unbroken Chain of Events: The Doctrine of Continuous Transaction in State v. Jackson
North Carolina Criminal Law
by Joseph L. Hyde
1w ago
Robbery is larceny from the person by violence or intimidation.  The exact relationship between the taking and the violence is vexing.  There is authority for the proposition that the use of force must be such as to induce the victim to part with the property.  State v. Richardson, 308 N.C. 470, 476, 302 S.E.2d 799, 803 (1983).  A recent opinion of the Court of Appeals reminds us, however, that the violence need not coincide with the taking when there is a continuous transaction.  See State v. Jackson, No. COA23-636, 2024 WL 1172327 (N.C. Ct. App. Mar. 19, 2024).  ..read more
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Spring 2024 Cannabis Update (Part I)
North Carolina Criminal Law
by Phil Dixon
1w ago
It has been a while since my last post on cannabis and criminal law issues, and it is past time for an update. In addition to a number of state cases grappling with search and seizure issues surrounding cannabis, there have been recent developments in the area on the federal and tribal levels. Today’s post will focus on search and seizure issues in marijuana prosecutions. Part II will cover drug identification issues and other recent issues affecting the state of cannabis law. Sight and Odor of Cannabis = Reasonable Suspicion. In the recent case of State v. George, COA22-958, ___ N.C. App. ___ ..read more
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News Roundup
North Carolina Criminal Law
by Phil Dixon
1w ago
Reuters reports that threats against federal judges have substantially increased over the last several years. Threats deemed “serious” by the U.S. Marshals Service rose from 179 incidents in 2019 to more than 450 in 2023. A majority of these threats seem to be motivated by politics and are coming from people without a direct connection to any litigation before the judges. The phenomenon is not unique to federal court judges. A 2022 survey by the National Judicial College of primarily state-court judges revealed that almost 90% of the 398 judges polled expressed concerns for their physical safe ..read more
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