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North Carolina v. Puckett

Filed: October 2, 1979.

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
STEVEN ANTHONY PUCKETT



Appeal by defendant from Washington, Judge. Judgments entered 9 January 1979 in Superior Court, Forsyth County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 22 August 1979.

Erwin, Judge. Judges Clark and Wells concur.

Erwin

Defendant presents four questions for our determination:

(1) "Did the trial court commit prejudicial error by failing to consolidate all charges for entry of judgment and by imposing two consecutive two-year sentences upon defendant which action resulted in a different and greater sentence being imposed than that provided for in the plea arrangement with the State?"

(2) "Did the trial court commit prejudicial error by accepting defendant's guilty plea and entering judgment imposing sentence thereon because of violations of Chapter 15A, Article 58, Pleas [sic] Relating to Guilty Pleas in Superior Court, in defendant's guilty plea proceeding?"

(3) Did the trial court commit prejudicial error by violating defendant's right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in accepting defendant's guilty plea and entering judgment imposing sentence thereon on the grounds the record does not support the court's determination that his guilty plea was the product of informed choice and freely, voluntarily and understandingly made?"

(4) "Did the trial court commit prejudicial error by denying defendant's motion to set aside his plea of guilty and the judgment and sentence imposed thereon for the reasons set forth in the foregoing questions presented?"

After careful study of the record and for the reasons that follow, we answer each of the questions, "No," and affirm the judgments entered by the trial court.

The Supreme Court of the United States held as follows in Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 261, 30 L. Ed. 2d 427, 432, 92 S. Ct. 495, 498 (1971):

"Disposition of charges after plea discussions is not only an essential part of the process but a highly desirable part for many reasons. It leads to prompt and largely final disposition of most criminal cases; it avoids much of the corrosive impact of enforced idleness during pretrial confinement for those who are denied release pending trial; it protects the public from those accused persons who are prone to continue criminal conduct even while on pretrial release; and, by shortening the time between charge and disposition, it enhances whatever may be the rehabilitative propects [sic] of the guilty when they are ultimately imprisoned." (Citation omitted.)

Our Supreme Court stated in State v. Slade, 291 N.C. 275, 278, 229 S.E.2d 921, 923-24 (1976):

"In the past, 'plea bargaining' was carried on informally between the prosecution and the defendant or defendant's attorney subject to the approval of the presiding judge as to the proper sentence to be imposed. In 1973, the procedure for 'plea bargaining' was formalized by the enactment of G.S. 15A-1021 through G.S. 15A-1026. G.S. 15A-1026 provides:

'A verbatim record of the proceedings at which the defendant enters a plea of guilty or no contest and of any preliminary consideration of a plea arrangement by the judge pursuant to G.S. 15A-1021(c) must be made and transcribed.' (Emphasis added.)

G.S. 15A-1021(c) allows the parties to a plea arrangement to advise the trial judge of the terms of the proposed agreement, provided an agreement has been reached."

In view of the importance of plea bargaining as indicated in the above cases, we now examine the record before us in order of the assignments of error set out above.

Consolidation of Charges

The record reveals the following in regard to ...


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