State v. Crawford, COA20-502

Case DateAugust 03, 2021
CourtCourt of Appeal of North Carolina (US)




No. COA20-502

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

August 3, 2021

An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Heard in the Court of Appeals 13 April 2021.

Appeal by Defendant from judgment entered 5 February 2020 by Judge Marvin P. Pope, Jr. in Burke County, No. 19 CRS 588-589 Superior Court.

Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Mary S. Crawley, for the State.

Law Office of Sandra Payne Hagood, by Sandra Payne Hagood, for Defendant-Appellant.


¶1 Defendant Christopher Crawford ("Defendant") appeals his convictions of willful failure to appear for a felony and attaining habitual felon status. On appeal, Defendant contends the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss for insufficient evidence. After careful consideration of Defendant's challenge to his conviction in light of the record and the applicable law, we conclude Defendant is not entitled to any relief on appeal.

I. Factual and Procedural History

¶ 2 On May 13, 2019, Defendant pled guilty to larceny of a motor vehicle and possession of a stolen motor vehicle in Burke County Superior Court. The trial court continued Defendant's sentencing until June 3, 2019. Defendant was ordered to appear for sentencing at 10:00 a.m. on June 3, 2019. Specifically, the trial court instructed Defendant "[b]e back here on June 3." The trial court also noted, "sentencing will be on June 3, 2019," and "we are going to continue sentencing until June 3." Defendant acknowledged the trial court's instructions by responding, "Thank you." Defendant was to be sentenced in Burke County Superior Court before being transferred to Caldwell County to appear on charges there.

¶ 3 On the docket for the week of May 13, 2019, under Defendant's name, a Burke County assistant clerk of court noted, Defendant was "to return to court" on June 3, 2019. A judgment was entered, in which it stated, "prayer for judgment continued for sentencing until [June 3, 2019]." The conditions of the release order states, "you are ORDERED to appear before the Court as provided above and at all subsequent continued dates. If you fail to appear, you will be arrested and you may be charged with the crime of willful failure to appear. You also may be arrested without a warrant if you violate any condition of release in this Order . . . ."

¶ 4 Defendant did not appear during the June 3, 2019 Criminal Session in the Burke County Superior Court. Defendant also failed to appear in Caldwell County Superior Court. Both courts asked their bailiffs to "call and fail" Defendant. The bailiffs called out Defendant's name as required and recorded that he failed to appear in court on their respective call-out lists. Both courts issued an order for Defendant's arrest and issued a bond forfeiture.

¶ 5 On June 14, 2019, Defendant was arrested. Defendant was indicted for felony failure to appear and attaining habitual felon status. On February 4, 2020, Defendant's trial for willful failure to appear commenced.

¶ 6 The State's evidence consisted of the testimony of Shawn Annas, the Burke County Sherriff's Office courtroom deputy and two Burke County assistant clerks of court, Julie French and Greta Keller. The State's witnesses testified that the Burke County Clerk's Office prepared and published superior court calendars two weeks prior to the scheduled session. The calendar dockets are published on the internet, the N.C. Courts website, and the bulletin board in the lobby of the Burke County courthouse. At the start of each superior court session, the assistant district attorney ("ADA") performs the "calendar call." During the calendar call, the ADA "will go through the entire calendar and call every defendant's name that's on the calendar for the week." If a defendant fails to appear when his name is called, the defendant's name will be recorded by the bailiff on a "call-out list." "Toward the end of the week whenever defendants have not shown up for court, the [ADA] will inform the judge," and the judge will instruct the bailiff to call the defendant's name. The bailiff will then record the defendant's name, the date, and the bailiff's initials in a notebook.

¶ 7 At the close of the State's evidence, Defendant moved to dismiss the charges "based on the State's failure to prove the element of willfulness." The motion was denied. Defendant did not testify or present any evidence. The jury convicted Defendant of willful failure to appear. The following day, Defendant's trial for attaining habitual felon status occurred. Defendant did not testify or present evidence. After the jury was excused, Defendant moved for a mistrial. His motion was denied. The jury convicted Defendant of attaining habitual felon status. Defendant timely appealed in open court.

II. Discussion

¶ 8 In his sole argument on appeal, Defendant contends the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the charge of failure to appear for a felony as "the State has not proved or shown in any way willfulness." We disagree.

¶ 9 "In making a determination as to...

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