Supreme Court Un-“Capps” Amendments

A few months ago, Jamie Markham summarized the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Capps, 374 N.C. 621 (2020), affirming the procedure used by the state to cure a defect with the name of the victim in larceny and injury to personal property charges. The higher court’s decision reversed the Court of Appeals ruling in State v. Capps, 265 N.C. App. 491 (2019), a case that Jeff Welty blogged about here.

The more recent Capps case is one that I have found myself mentioning over and over again during presentations on pleadings, amendments, and legal updates, so I thought we should close the loop on those earlier blog posts by digging a little deeper into its holding. Procedurally, Capps is a significant and helpful case for the state, but it remains to be seen how one aspect of the decision will be reconciled with existing case law.

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Court of Appeals “Capps” Prosecutors’ Use of Statements of Charges in Superior Court

The ability to file a misdemeanor statement of charges is a superpower for district court prosecutors, enabling them to overcome virtually any error in a criminal pleading with the stroke of a pen. Arraignment in district court is kryptonite, robbing the superpower of its efficacy. This dynamic was on full display in State v. Capps, __ N.C. App. __, __ S.E.2d __, 2019 WL 2180435 (May 21, 2019), a recent opinion by the court of appeals.

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