State v. Hilton, No. 292A20 (N.C. 2021)
Nature of Case: Defendant pled guilty to first-degree statutory rape and first-degree sexual offense charges in 2007. Defendant was released from prison in 2017 and placed on post-release supervision for a period of five years. While on post-release supervision, Defendant violated the terms of his release and was subsequently charged with taking indecent liberties with a child. In 2018 the trial court conducted a hearing to determine whether Defendant should be enrolled in Satellite Based Monitoring (“SBM”) based on his 2007 convictions. The trial court ordered Defendant to enroll in lifetime SBM noting that Defendant was convicted of an aggravated offense.
Appellant sought review of the trial court’s order, arguing that: (1) the SBM order effected an unreasonable search, (2) SBM is facially unconstitutional due to the State’s failure to demonstrate that the program serves a legitimate government interest, and (3) orders authorizing SBM constitute “general warrants” in violation of Article I, Section 20 of the North Carolina Constitution.
The Court of Appeals issued a divided decision affirming in part, reversing in part, and remanding the case to the trial court. Defendant then appealed to the Supreme Court of North Carolina based on the divided decision of the Court of Appeals.
Holding: The North Carolina Supreme Court held that a search effected by the imposition of lifetime SBM upon a defendant due to his status as an aggravated offender is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment and does not constitute a “general warrant.”