242 S.E.2d 801 (N.C. 1978), 29, State v. Saults

Docket Nº:29.
Citation:242 S.E.2d 801, 294 N.C. 722
Party Name:STATE of North Carolina v. Franklin Junior SAULTS.
Case Date:April 17, 1978
Court:Supreme Court of North Carolina
 
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Page 801

242 S.E.2d 801 (N.C. 1978)

294 N.C. 722

STATE of North Carolina

v.

Franklin Junior SAULTS.

No. 29.

Supreme Court of North Carolina.

April 17, 1978

Page 802

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 803

Atty. Gen. Rufus L. Edmisten by Associate Atty. Douglas A. Johnston, Raleigh, for the State.

Bruce B. Briggs, Mars Hill, and Lloyd Hise, Jr., Spruce Pine, for defendant-appellant.

MOORE, Justice.

Defendant's conviction of accessory before the fact to arson is based upon the following bill of indictment:

"(T)hat on or about the 29th day of November, 1975, in Mitchell County, Franklin Junior Saults unlawfully and willfully did feloniously be and become an accessory before the fact to the wanton and willful burning of the inhabited dwelling of Ola Mae Yelton, located in the Glen Ayre Community of Mitchell County, said dwelling then and there being actually occupied by the said Ola Mae Yelton. The Defendant committed said offense by counseling, procuring, and commanding Jacky Lee Parker to commit a felony, to wit; arson, and in confirmation of said counseling and procuring and commanding of the said Jacky Lee Parker, he, the said Jacky Lee Parker, on or about the 29th day of November, 1975, did unlawfully, willfully, wantonly, and feloniously burn the inhabited dwelling of Ola Mae Yelton, located in the Glen Ayre Community of Mitchell County, said dwelling then and there being actually occupied by Ola Mae Yelton, after he, the said Jacky Lee Parker, had been paid the sum of $20.00 in money [294 N.C. 724] by the Defendant, Franklin Junior Saults, on the same day, to commit the felony of arson. . . ."

After verdict, but before sentence was imposed, defendant filed a motion in arrest of judgment for that "the Bill of Indictment does not charge an essential element of the common law crime of arson in that it does not allege that the burning was done or caused maliciously and therefore is fatally defective."

G.S. 15A-924 codifies the requirements of a criminal pleading. A criminal pleading must contain, inter alia:

"(5) A plain and concise factual statement in each count which, without allegations of an evidentiary nature, asserts facts supporting every element of a criminal offense and the defendant's commission thereof with sufficient precision

Page 804

clearly to apprise the defendant or defendants of the conduct which is the subject of the accusation. . . ."

In State v. Greer, 238 N.C. 325, 77 S.E.2d 917 (1953), in considering the validity of a bill of indictment, Parker, J. (later C. J.), stated:

"The authorities are in unison that an indictment, whether at common law or under a statute, to be good must allege lucidly and accurately all the essential elements of the offense endeavored to be charged. The purpose of such constitutional provisions is: (1) such certainty in the statement of the accusation as will identify the offense with which the accused is sought to be charged; (2) to protect the accused from being twice put in jeopardy for the same offense; (3) to enable the accused to prepare for trial, and (4) to enable the court, on conviction or plea of nolo contendere or guilty to pronounce sentence according to the rights of the case. (Citations omitted.)"

While it is true, as defendant...

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