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State v. Geisslercrain

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

April 1, 2014

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
ROMY VERDAE GEISSLERCRAIN

Heard in the Court of Appeals December 12, 2013.

Yancey County. No. 10-CRS-304.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Deputy Attorney General Hal F. Askins, for the State.

Charlotte Gail Blake, for Defendant.

DILLON, Judge. Judge STROUD and Judge HUNTER, JR. concur.

OPINION

Page 93

DILLON, Judge.

Appeal by Defendant from judgments entered 10 April 2013 by Judge Marvin P. Pope, Jr., in Yancey County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 12 December 2013.

Romy Verdae Geisslercrain (" Defendant" ) appeals from judgments convicting her of impaired driving and reckless driving to endanger, alleging errors in her sentencing and challenging the trial court's denial of her motion to dismiss for insufficiency of the evidence. We find no error, in part, and we vacate and remand, in part.

I. Background

The evidence of record tends to show the following: On the evening of 16 July 2010, Defendant was involved in a single vehicle accident on Highway 19 near Burnsville. After Defendant had been transported to the hospital, State Trooper Jeremy Carver arrived at the scene where he found Defendant's damaged Ford Ranger truck in the middle of the highway. Trooper Carver believed that Defendant had likely driven off the right side of the road, after which she tried to jerk her truck back onto the road too quickly, resulting in the truck rolling several times and sustaining approximately $7,000.00 in damage. Trooper Carver thought the truck may have been going too fast for a curve in the road.

Trooper Carver went to the hospital to speak with Defendant, who told him she had taken medications either the day of the incident or the day before - including Methadone, Clonazepam, and Adderall. She also admitted to Trooper Carver that she had been drinking alcohol. Trooper Carver believed that Defendant had consumed a sufficient quantity of impairing substances to appreciably impair her mental and physical faculties.

Defendant was indicted on charges of impaired driving and reckless driving to endanger. After her conviction in District Court, Defendant appealed to Superior Court, where a jury found her guilty of both charges.

During sentencing, the trial court determined, without submitting the question to a jury, that an aggravating factor existed, specifically, that " [t]he negligent driving of [D]efendant led to an accident causing property damage of $1,000.00 or more[.]" The trial court further determined that a mitigating factor existed, specifically, that " [D]efendant has a safe driving record[.]" The trial court determined that the aggravating factor was substantially counterbalanced by the mitigating factor, and, therefore, declared that " a Level Four punishment shall be imposed."

The trial court entered two written judgments, one for each conviction. The written judgment for the impaired driving conviction reflects that the trial court was sentencing Defendant as a Level Four offender, but then actually sentenced her to a minimum and maximum sentence of twelve months incarceration, which is above the range of Level Four punishments. Nonetheless, as reflected on the written judgment, the trial court suspended the active sentence on the

Page 94

condition that she be placed on twelve months ...


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