State v. Strudwick, No. 334PA19-2 (N.C. 2021)
Nature of Case: The defendant in this case entered a guilty plea to charges of first-degree kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and first-degree forcible rape in 2017. After sentencing, which included an active term of incarceration of 360 to 516 months, the prosecution informed the trial court of the state’s intention to seek the imposition of lifetime Satellite Based Monitoring (“SBM”) upon defendant’s release from his active sentence.
The state filed a petition seeking SBM upon release and defendant filed a motion to dismiss the state’s petition asserting facial and as-applied challenges under the Fourth Amendment. After a hearing, the trial court declined to dismiss the state’s petition and filed an order imposing lifetime SBM. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s order citing Grady v. North Carolina, 575 U.S. 306 (2015). After a discretionary appeal and subsequent remand, the Court of Appeals issued a second opinion in this matter as a divided panel, again reversing the trial court’s SBM order. The state appealed.
Holding: The North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the Court of Appeals, holding that the state’s lifetime SBM program is reasonable and permissible under the Fourth Amendment because it promotes a legitimate and compelling governmental interest that outweighs the program’s “narrow, tailored intrusion” into defendant’s expectation of privacy. The Court further concluded that the timing of the trial court’s reasonableness determination was appropriate even though the SBM order would not be imposed until the end of defendant’s lengthy term of incarceration.
Justices Earls, Hudson, and Ervin dissented.