Monday, December 31, 2012

NC Court of Appeals Criminal Decisions, Dec. 31, 2012

Interesting Cases

State v. Daniels. Dare County.

Judge Wayland J. Sermons, Jr. ruled that 14-208.18(a)(2) and (a)(3) are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. These provide that a sex offender cannot be:

(2) Within 300 feet of any location intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors when the place is located on premises that are not intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors, including, but not limited to, places described in subdivision (1) of this subsection that are located in malls, shopping centers, or other property open to the general public.

(3)  At any place where minors gather for regularly scheduled educational, recreational, or social programs.

Defendant went with his wife and son to his son's Tee Ball game at the Lion's Club Center, which is used for community events and then another Park, to practice softball with his daughter. A cop saw him and had him arrested. Judge Sermon dismissed the charges, declaring the law vague.

The State appealed.

First, the court had no jurisdiction to rule (2) to be vague, as defendant was indicted on (3).

Second,  defendant did not have standing to bring a facial challenge, only an as-applied challenge.

Third, section (a)(3) of the statute is unconstitutionally vague, as it fails to give the person of ordinary
intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited.

State v. Grainger. Randolph County. Appeal of 1st degree murder conviction.

Held: Court erred in failing to instruct on the lessor offense of accessory before the fact to first degree murder. This is a lesser offense because it is only punishable as a B2, in murder cases--even if the case is not tried capitally (language in the statute is "capital felony").

Facts in the case were simply that defendant dropped off the shooter to kill his father.

Other Cases

State v. Comeaux. Buncombe County. Appeal of four counts of indecent liberties.

1st, defendant challenges victim testifying in closed courtroom under 6th Amendment right to a public trial.

A judge may close the courtroom in sex offense cases during the victim's testimony by following the requirements of State v. Waller, that:

(1) the party seeking to close the hearing must advance an overriding interest that is likely to be prejudiced;

(2) the closure must be no broader than necessary to protect that interest;

(3) the trial court must consider reasonable alternatives to closing the proceeding; and

(4) the trial court must make findings adequate to support the closure.

Here, the court made adequate findings to close the court.

2nd, indictments were not defective, even though they did not give a specific date for a specific sexual act.

State v. Oates. State appeal of court grant of motion to suppress.

The trial court found that the affidavit that was used to get a search warrant was insufficient to establish probable cause.

The affidavit was based on an anonymous informant's tip. However, the tipper gave specific information that was corroborated by the police. This was enough.

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