Changing Charges after State v. Bryant

Brittany Bryant was charged with misdemeanor larceny for allegedly stealing acne toner and towelettes valued at $14.94 of from a Wal-Mart in Raleigh. The prosecutor agreed to reduce the charge from larceny to shoplifting. She accomplished that in a manner familiar to district court practitioners. She struck through the charging language of the citation, wrote in “shoplifting,” and initialed and dated the document. Bryant then pled guilty to shoplifting by concealing merchandise and was sentenced.

Bryant later sought to set aside her conviction on the basis that the prosecutor improperly amended the citation. The court of appeals agreed, holding in State v. Bryant, ___ N.C. App. ___ (October 1, 2019), that the amendment was improper and deprived the district court of jurisdiction.

Bryant has left many wondering how misdemeanor charges may be amended to charge different, and less serious, offenses without subjecting the convictions to collateral attack.

Read more