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State v. Alston

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

November 5, 2019

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
JAQUAIL DONAVEN ALSTON, Defendant.

          Appeal by Defendant from judgment entered 8 March 2018 by Judge V. Bradford Long in Randolph County Nos. 16CRS1115, 52524 Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 18 September 2019.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Kristin J. Uicker, for the State.

          Cooley Law Office, by Craig M. Cooley, for Defendant-Appellant.

          DILLON, Judge.

         Defendant Jaquail Donaven Alston appeals from a judgment convicting him of felony serious injury by vehicle ("FSIBV"). We affirm.

         I. Background

         In April 2017, a grand jury indicted Defendant for FSIBV, driving while impaired, and driving while license revoked. Eleven months later, in March 2018, Defendant pleaded guilty to the FSIBV charge and the other two charges were dropped, as part of a plea agreement.

         Defendant petitioned our Court for a writ of certiorari to review whether the prosecutor's factual basis presented to the trial court was not sufficient. We grant certiorari to consider the merits of Defendant's appeal.

         II. Analysis

         Defendant alleges that the factual basis put forth by the prosecutor was insufficient to warrant an informed decision by the trial court. Our General Assembly has provided that "[t]he judge may not accept a plea of guilty or no contest without first determining that there is a factual basis for the plea" but that "[t]his determination may be based upon . . . a statement of facts by the prosecutor[.]" N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1022(c) (2018). See State v. Atkins, 349 N.C. 62, 95-97, 505 S.E.2d 97, 118-19 (1998) (concluding that the prosecutor's factual summary was sufficient to allow the trial court to accept a defendant's guilty plea).

         Here, after the trial judge read the plea transcript to Defendant, the prosecutor gave the following factual summary:

This matter occurred on [25 May 2016], Your Honor. It was investigated by the highway patrol. On that date, Your Honor, they received a call at 3 o'clock in the morning, Your Honor. The vehicle had a one car accident. It had veered off the road and struck a tree and then flipped over, Your Honor, on I-73.
When they arrived there, there were three individuals, Your Honor, a male, female and small child, I believe at the time was an infant, five months or so. The EMTs, Your Honor, had taken the individuals to the hospital. At the hospital, Your Honor, Mr. Alston was acting erratically - unresponsive and acting erratically, so they drew the blood, Your Honor. The EMT noted to the hospital that he was the driver.
When they actually questioned him, Your Honor, when he was responsive, he did say he was the driver. At the hospital, blood was drawn. He was then released. . . . His girlfriend was there with her baby, Your Honor. The baby was injured and flown to another hospital. His wife then said, "No, no, I was the driver." She gave a statement that she ...

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