Last month the General Assembly enacted new G.S. 20-141.10 criminalizing so-called street takeovers. S.L. 2023-97. A street takeover occurs when a person blocks or impedes traffic on a highway, street, or public vehicular area with a motor vehicle in order to perform a motor vehicle stunt, contest, or exhibition. The new statute, effective for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2023, makes it unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle in a street takeover or to participate in or coordinate such an event. S.L. 2023-97 further authorizes the seizure of a motor vehicle operated in violation of G.S. 20-141.10.
On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump was indicted for a third time. Trump previously was indicted in New York state court for allegations that he paid hush-money to an adult firm star days before the 2016 presidential election. The second indictment, filed in federal court in Florida, relates to the discovery of classified documents in Trump’s home after he left the White House. Some experts deem the latest indictment, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, as the most consequential. Trump is accused of attempting to remain in power, despite having lost the 2020 election, by subverting election results. The indictment alleges that Trump engaged in unlawful conspiracies that “built on the widespread mistrust [Trump] was creating through pervasive and destabilizing lies about election fraud” and that “targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting, and certifying the results of the presidential election.” Trump appeared in court on Thursday and entered a plea of not guilty.
Keeping reading for more criminal law news.
I’m writing this week to let readers know that several chapters in the criminal law section of the Superior Court Judges’ Benchbook, a resource created and formerly edited by my colleague Jessica Smith, have been updated. The chapters are written to guide the work of superior court judges, but are nevertheless useful for all criminal … Read more
Four years after a plurality of the United States Supreme Court in Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. ___, 139 S. Ct. 2525 (2019), announced a State-favorable exigency rule for withdrawing blood from a suspected impaired driver who is unconscious, the North Carolina Court of Appeals in State v. Burris, COA22-408, ___ N.C. App. ___ (July 5, 2023), has applied the rule for the first time. This post will review the holding in Mitchell and the Court of Appeals’ analysis in Burris and will conclude with a summary of the Fourth Amendment limitations on implied consent testing.
People across the country gathered on Tuesday to celebrate Independence Day. Sadly, celebrations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Shreveport, Louisiana were marred by mass shootings. Forty-year-old Kimbrady Carriker is accused of killing five people – including a 15-year-old boy – after he fired randomly along several blocks of a southwest Philadelphia neighborhood. CNN reports that Carriker, who had a previous gun conviction, was armed with an AR-style rifle and a 9 mm handgun – both privately made ghost guns — and was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Meanwhile, in Shreveport, four people were killed and at least seven others injured during a Fourth of July block party when multiple unidentified men exchanged gunfire. First responders had difficulty getting to the victims because of the number of vehicles at the gathering. No suspects have yet been arrested. CNN has the story here.
Earlier this month, the state supreme court rejected a defendant’s challenge to his conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon pursuant to an indictment that failed to comport with a statutory pleading requirement. That case, State v. Newborn, 330PA21, ___ N.C. ___ (June 16, 2023), is the latest in a decade of rulings determining that technical pleading defects do not deprive the trial court of jurisdiction. This post will review Newborn and consider its place among jurisprudence departing from the traditional view that a defective pleading fails to vest jurisdiction.
Two recent cases from the North Carolina appellate courts indicate that reports of the demise of technical pleading requirements may have been greatly exaggerated. I am responsible for at least one of those reports. Several years ago, I posted about State v. Brawley, 370 N.C. 626 (2018) (per curiam), in which the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed a conviction based on an indictment charging the defendant with stealing shirts belonging to “Belk’s Department Stores, an entity capable of owning property,” even though “Belk’s Department Stores” was not the full legal name of the entity that suffered the loss. I noted then that Brawley was one in a series of recent state supreme court opinions rejecting claims that technical pleading defects deprived the trial court of jurisdiction over the offense. See also State v. Jones, 255 N.C. App. 364 (2017) (failure to allege every element in a citation was not a jurisdictional defect).
Yet, in recent months, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has issued two published opinions vacating convictions based on fatally defective indictments. The first was a rape conviction pursuant to an indictment that failed to allege the defendant knew the victim was physically helpless. State v. Singleton, 285 N.C. App. 630 (2022). The second was a conviction for possessing a firearm at a protest where the pleading failed to state that the offense occurred on public property. State v. Reavis, __ N.C. App. __, 882 S.E.2d 590 (2022). To be sure, each of these cases involves the failure to plead elements of the offense, which is distinguishable from the victim-naming requirements in Brawley and related cases. Nevertheless, each relies on the notion that defects in an indictment deprive the court of its power to adjudicate a case, even when the pleading is sufficient to pass constitutional muster. This post will discuss these cases and consider potential future developments.
Multiple news outlets, including the Washington Post and New York Times reported yesterday that former President Donald Trump has been federally indicted in connection with the discovery of classified documents in his Mar-a-Lago home after he left the White House. The charges have been called a “seismic event” that puts the nation in an “extraordinary position” since not only is Trump the first former president to ever be federally charged, but he also is the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. The latest charges add to the former president’s legal woes as he was indicted in March in New York state court in connection with allegations that he paid hush-money to adult film star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 presidential election. As big as this news is, it is just one of the many criminal law headlines from the past week.
Last April, the North Carolina Supreme Court decided two significant cases involving claims that prosecutors impermissibly exercised peremptory challenges against prospective black jurors based on their race: State v. Hobbs, ___ N.C. ___, 884 S.E.2d 639 (2023) (Hobbs II), and State v. Campbell, ___ N.C. ___884 S.E.2d 674 (2023). This post reviews the framework for the review undertaken by the trial courts in those cases and the state supreme court’s opinions.
Twenty five years ago, North Carolina adopted graduated licensing for young drivers, a system founded on the principle that “[s]afe driving requires instruction in driving and experience.” G.S. 20-11(a). The statutory scheme implementing this program grants driving privileges on a limited basis and expands those privileges over time and upon the satisfaction of additional requirements. Id. Accordingly, to receive the first level of a driver’s license – termed a limited provisional license – a driver must have held a limited learner’s permit for at least 12 months. The holder of a limited provisional license generally may not drive unsupervised after 9 p.m. and may not have more than one passenger under the age of 21 in the vehicle. Last month, the General Assembly ratified legislation that loosens these requirements.