The North Carolina Court of Appeals Tuesday upheld a Superior Court ruling throwing out three DWI convictions of a Fayetteville, North Carolina woman. The woman says that guilty pleas were entered on her behalf in 2006, but she never agreed to plead guilty and she says that she was not in court when she was convicted of the charges without her consent.
Last January, a Cumberland County judge overturned three prior convictions on a Fayetteville, North Carolina woman’s record that had been entered in 2006. The woman reportedly was charged with driving while impaired on three separate occasions in 2004 and 2006. Court records reportedly indicated that convictions were entered on all three charges in November 2006. When the woman was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of DWI, she was facing a potential felony DWI offense.
The Superior Court judge reportedly found serious flaws in the court records that raised questions about veracity of the court records. The judge considered the evidence presented, the legal arguments and the contents of the court records and overturned the prior convictions.
Prosecutors appealed that decision, arguing that the judge did not have jurisdiction to overturn the prior convictions. The Court of Appeals rejected that argument and upheld the lower court ruling. Prosecutors are considering an appeal to the state Supreme Court. If appealed, the North Carolina high court has discretion to accept or deny review of the appellate ruling.
This blog has recently discussed felony DWI charges under North Carolina law. Lawmakers are considering a proposal to make a third conviction for DWI within a 10 year time period a felony offense under the habitual DWI statute. Currently, a fourth conviction for DWI within 10 years can bring serious prison time as a habitual DWI offense. The Fayetteville woman challenged the prior convictions after being arrested in 2009 for an alleged DWI offense.
Source: Fayetteville Observer, “Appeals court says Cumberland County judge can overturn DWI convictions,” Paul Woolverton, April 3, 2013