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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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. Continue reading →
Belk Department Stores are the Bloomingdales of North Carolina. If someone says they are going to Belk (or, more often, “Belk’s”), you know that they are heading into town to pick up some modern, southern style (or, more likely, something off the wedding registry). And if you hear that so-and-so stole something from your local Belk’s, you can generally picture the scene of crime, since, outside of the big cities, there is generally just one Belk’s in town. So when the court of appeals held last year that a Rowan County indictment alleging that the defendant stole shirts belonging to “Belk’s Department Stores, an entity capable of owning property,” was invalid because it failed to adequately identify the victim of the larceny, it may have left some people in Salisbury (where there is only one Belk’s) scratching their heads.
The state supreme court recently reversed that determination in a per curiam opinion that rejected this kind of technical pleading requirement for larceny of personal property.
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The court of appeals recently decided that an indictment alleging that a defendant stole some shirts from “Belk’s Department Stores, an entity capable of owning property,” did not sufficiently identify the victim as an entity capable of owning property. State v. Brawley, __ N.C. App. __, __ S.E.2d __, 2017 WL 4632820 (Oct. 17, 2017). This post summarizes the decision, considers the possibility of further review, and explains how other states handle this issue. Continue reading →