Does a No Contact Order Apply While the Defendant Is in Jail?

When setting conditions of pretrial release in domestic violence cases, magistrates and judges often order a defendant not to contact the victim. Those directives clearly apply to a defendant once he is released from jail subject to those conditions. But what about a defendant who remains in jail? Is he also subject to a no contact condition included on a release order? The court of appeals addressed that issue yesterday in State v. Mitchell.

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Some Clarity on Self-Defense and Unintended Injuries

Earlier this year, in State v. Gomola, ___ N.C. App. ___, 810 S.E.2d 797 (Feb. 6, 2018), the Court of Appeals addressed a self-defense issue that has sometimes puzzled the North Carolina courts. The question in Gomola was whether a person can rely on self-defense to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. The Court answered with a decisive yes . . . if the basis for the involuntary manslaughter charge is an unlawful act such as an assault or affray. Continue reading

Even When the Controlled Buys Happen at the Back Door, Knock and Talks Must Happen at the Front Door

I’ve blogged before about whether law enforcement officers may go to a side door, or the back door, when attempting to conduct a knock-and-talk. The court of appeals just decided another case on point, again holding that an officer generally may not do so. Continue reading

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News Roundup

Film producer Harvey Weinstein was indicted this week in Manhattan on charges of rape and a criminal sexual act.  The indictments relate to incidents that occurred in 2004 and 2013 involving two women who have not been identified.  Weinstein currently is free on $1 million cash bail, and has surrendered his passport and is wearing an electronic monitoring device.  Weinstein’s attorney said that he plans to enter a plea of not guilty and expects an acquittal if the case goes to trial.  Dozens of women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, and the allegations against him were the genesis of the broad and ongoing #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment.  Keep reading for more news. Continue reading

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Limits on PJCs

Judges can continue prayer for judgment in any case. Except when they can’t. Continue reading

Collins v. Virginia:  Supreme Court Directs Traffic at the Intersection of the Automobile Exception and Searches of the Home

An officer sees a motorcycle that he has probable cause to believe is stolen parked in the suspect’s driveway. The motorcycle is partially covered by a tarpaulin. May the officer lawfully walk into the driveway without the permission of the suspect or any other resident and lift the tarp to read the license plate and VIN number on the motorcycle? Continue reading

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News Roundup

Late last week a familiar national tragedy played out in Santa Fe, Texas, where a teenager, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, went to his high school armed with a shotgun and a pistol and killed ten people, many of them fellow students.  Pagourtzis was taken into custody and charged with ten counts of murder and various other offenses.  Most of the details will sound numbingly familiar: Pagourtzis kept to himself; his father owned the weapons legally; the school was prepared; Democrats called for gun control; Republicans called for more effective security measures and mental health services; American students are afraid to go to school.  Keep reading for more news.

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Sentence Credits Applied to Post-Release Supervision

Sentence credits are the days of credit the prison system can award to inmates as an incentive for good behavior, work, or participation in programs in prison. The main sentence reduction credit for sentences imposed under Structured Sentencing is earned time. Earned time reduces an inmate’s maximum sentence, hastening his or her release from prison to post-release supervision. Can it also reduce the person’s term of post-release supervision? Continue reading

State v. Turnage and Determining When a Defendant is Seized

A Fourth Amendment seizure does not occur when an officer turns on her patrol vehicle’s lights and siren to signal for a vehicle to stop. Instead, it occurs when a driver submits to that show of authority by stopping the car. Thus, if an officer lacks reasonable suspicion when she activates the siren, but gathers information sufficient to constitute reasonable suspicion by the time the vehicle stops, the traffic stop does not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment.

But what if the car is already stopped when the officer turns on the blue lights and siren? Have the occupants of the car then been seized for purposes of the Fourth Amendment? Not necessarily, as the court of appeals recently explained in State v. Turnage, __ N.C. App. ___ (May 15, 2018).

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Supreme Court: Driver of Rental Car, Not Listed on Rental Agreement, Has Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

A week ago today, the Supreme Court of the United States resolved a circuit split and ruled that a person driving a rental car, but not listed on the rental agreement, has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the vehicle . . . at least sometimes. The case is Byrd v. United States. Continue reading