Legislative Changes to Which Prior Convictions Can Support a Habitual Felon Charge

S.L. 2017-176 makes two important changes to which prior convictions can support a habitual felon charge. The legislation (1) clarifies the status of prior convictions from New Jersey and other states that don’t use the term “felony,” and (2) imposes a new requirement that a prior conviction from another state be for an offense that is “substantially similar” to a North Carolina felony.

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Court of Appeals Rules on Prior Convictions from New Jersey

Last month, the court of appeals decided State v. Hogan, __ N.C. App. __, 758 S.E.2d 465 (2014), a case about the use of a defendant’s prior convictions from New Jersey in determining the defendant’s prior record level. It’s an interesting case and one that has implications for the use of such convictions in the … Read more

Who Proves Prior Record?

Who proves prior convictions for sentencing purposes? By statute, the State. Sometimes, however, in the fast-paced world of district court, marshaling a defendant’s criminal record can seem like a shared responsibility, with the prosecutor, judge, and clerk all playing a role. Especially today, when more statewide information is available at a mouse click through CJLEADS … Read more


A Motion to Suppress a Prior Conviction Isn’t a Collateral Attack

You can’t always get what you want But if you try sometimes you might find You get what you need –The Rolling Stones It’s generally understood that a criminal defendant can’t invalidate an old conviction in connection with proceedings on new charges. This is known as the anti-collateral attack rule. Suppose for example that a … Read more


What Is The Date of a Prior Impaired Driving Conviction under G.S. 20-179?

I ended last week’s post by noting that the date on which a prior impaired driving conviction occurs for purposes of the seven-year-look-back period in G.S. 20-179(c)(1)(a) may not be immediately obvious when a district court conviction for an impaired driving offense has been appealed to superior court and the appeal is later withdrawn. When … Read more

United States v. McNeill and How to Count Prior Convictions

The Supreme Court of the United States recently granted certiorari in a case originating out of North Carolina. United States v. McNeill, 598 F.3d 161 (4th Cir. 2010), cert. granted, 2011 WL 48124 (U.S., Jan. 7, 2011). The defendant in the case, Clifton McNeill, pled guilty to gun and drug crimes in federal court. The … Read more


Rule 403: Old Chief and Stipulations to Prior Convictions

Some crimes, such as felon in possession of a firearm, include as an element that the defendant has a qualifying prior conviction. When this is the case, the defense may seek to limit the prejudicial effect of the prior conviction by offering to stipulate to its existence and asking the trial judge to preclude the … Read more