Heard in the Court of Appeals 10 December 2013.
Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 18 March
2013 by Judge L. Todd Burke in Montgomery County Superior Court.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General Christina S. Hayes, for the State.
Richard Croutharmel, Raleigh, for defendant-appellant.
HUNTER, Robert C., Judge.
Paul Edward Sale (" defendant" ) appeals from judgment imposing 36 months of supervised probation after defendant entered an Alford plea to one count of obstructing justice. On appeal, defendant argues: (1) the trial court erred by failing to make findings of fact as to why a probationary period longer
than 18 months was necessary; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion by imposing a probation condition limiting defendant's employment opportunities that was overly broad and unduly burdensome.
After careful review, we remand for resentencing and dismiss defendant's argument regarding the special condition of probation.
In January 2012, defendant was charged with one count of willful failure to discharge duties based on receiving a bribe and one count of obstructing justice. In exchange for the State's dismissal of the failure to discharge duties offense, defendant entered an Alford plea to one count of misdemeanor obstructing justice. The prosecutor introduced the following as the factual basis for the plea.
In September 2010, defendant was working as a police officer in the town of Candor, North Carolina. During this time, defendant conducted a traffic stop of Stephanie Gibson (" Gibson" ) resulting in criminal charges for possession of cocaine. After that date, Gibson agreed to have intercourse with defendant in exchange for his assurance that he would have the charges dismissed. Defendant and Gibson consummated this agreement on 6 December 2010. Thereafter, defendant failed to appear for any of Gibson's court dates, but the charge against her was continued rather than dismissed. Gibson then contacted the State Bureau of Investigation, which launched an investigation and brought the underlying charges against defendant. Defendant was employed as a correctional officer at the Morrison Correctional Facility in Richmond County by the time this matter came before the trial court.
Based on defendant's Alford plea to one count of obstructing justice, the trial court sentenced defendant to thirty days imprisonment, but suspended this sentence for 36 months of supervised probation. The trial court further ordered that defendant: (1) pay court costs; (2) pay a fine of $1,000.00; (3) comply with the regular terms and conditions of probation; and (4) refrain from working in ...