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State v. Matthews

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

August 6, 2019


          Heard in the Court of Appeals 21 May 2019.

          Appeal by Defendant from judgment entered 4 May 2018 by Judge Craig Croom in Wake County No. 17CR202089 District Court.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Thomas J. Felling, for the State.

          Office of the Appellate Defender, by Wyatt Orsbon and Glenn Gerding, for Defendant-Appellant.

          INMAN, JUDGE.

         Defendant Samantha Meiaza Matthews ("Defendant") appeals, by petition for writ of certiorari, the district court's revocation of her probation imposed under a conditional discharge. Defendant argues that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to conduct the probation revocation hearing, contending that she did not expressly consent to the district court's exercise of jurisdiction. After thorough review of the record and applicable law, we allow Defendant's petition but hold Defendant has failed to demonstrate error.


         On 3 February 2017, Defendant was charged by magistrate's order with one count each of felony possession with the intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver ("PWIMSD") Percocet (Schedule II), Hydrocodone (Schedule II), and Diazepam (Schedule IV). On 5 May 2017, Defendant was charged by a bill of information with felony possession of a Schedule IV substance, a class I felony. Defendant and the State entered into a plea agreement that same day. Per the plea agreement, the State agreed to dismiss the three PWIMSD charges and Defendant agreed to plead guilty to felony possession of a Schedule IV substance and receive supervised probation on a conditional discharge.

         The district court accepted the plea agreement and entered a conditional discharge placing Defendant on 12 months of supervised probation. The court also ordered Defendant to pay court costs of $450 and a supervised probation fee, complete 225 hours of community service, and undergo a substance abuse evaluation.

         On 4 March 2018, Defendant's probation terms were modified to allow her additional time to complete her community service hours. Defendant's probation officer later filed a violation report on 23 April 2018, asserting that Defendant had only completed 26.1 of her 225 court-ordered community service hours and had not yet paid in full her court costs and supervised probation fee.

         On 4 May 2018, the district court held a hearing on the violation report. Defendant's counsel did not object to the district court's jurisdiction during the hearing and fully participated in the proceeding. After Defendant admitted the willfulness of her three violations, Defendant's probation officer testified that Defendant had completed 75 hours of community service at the time of the hearing. The court, in reliance on Defendant's admissions and the officer's testimony, found that Defendant willfully violated her probation and conditional discharge. While the trial court was reciting this finding, Defendant asked the court through counsel if she could speak; Defendant then addressed the court directly and asked for an additional 30 days to complete her community service requirement. The trial court denied Defendant's request.

         The trial court entered judgment for felony possession of a Schedule IV substance following the above exchange. As punishment, the court ordered a suspended sentence of 4 to 14 months imprisonment and placed Defendant on supervised probation for 12 months. After sentencing and at the conclusion of the hearing, Defendant directly asked the trial court if a felony would appear on her record. The trial court answered the question "yes"-to which Defendant replied, "Okay"-and then the trial court asked counsel if there was anything further Defendant wished to present to the court; Defendant's counsel responded, "No, Your Honor[.]"

         It does not appear from the hearing transcript that Defendant gave oral notice of appeal at the hearing; however, the trial judge checked a box on the "Disposition/Modification of Conditional Discharge" form that Defendant was appealing the order to superior court. The trial judge also checked and appears to have initialed a box on the judgment itself, stating "[t]he defendant gives notice of appeal from the judgment of the trial court to the Appellate Division[.]" Both the Disposition/Modification of Conditional Discharge and the judgment were entered on 4 May 2018, the day of the hearing revoking Defendant's probation.[1]

         Defendant, pro se, filed form notices of appeal designating her appeal to the superior court on 11 May 2018 and 17 May 2018; the first notice identified the original judgment entered on her guilty plea as the order appealed, while the second identified the order revoking her probation. Despite these forms designating Defendant's appeal to the superior court, a form judgment in the record signed by the ...

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