NC Gen Stat 14-87 Interpretation

In State v. Hinton, 361 N.C. 207, 639 S.E.2d 437 (2007), the Supreme Court of North Carolina held that hands are not "dangerous weapons" for the purposes of the crime of robbery with a dangerous weapon. Under N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-87(a) (2007), "any person or persons who, having in possession or with the use or threatened use of any firearms or other dangerous weapon, implement or means, whereby the life of a person is endangered or threatened, unlawfully takes or attempts to take personal property from another" is guilty of a class D felony. The Supreme Court of North Carolina that "the purpose of N.C.G.S. 14-87 is to provide for more severe punishment when the robbery is committed with the 'use or threatened use of firearms or other dangerous weapons,'" and concluded that "the General Assembly intended to require the State to prove that a defendant used an external dangerous weapon." Id. at 211-212, 639 S.E.2d at 440 (quoting State v. Jones, 227 N.C. 402, 405, 42 S.E.2d 465, 467 (1947)). In addition, our own Court has relied on Hinton to reach a similar conclusion regarding the crimes of first-degree rape and first-degree sexual offense, each of which contain the element of "employing or displaying a dangerous or deadly weapon or an article which the victim reasonably believes to be a dangerous or deadly weapon." N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-27.2(a)(2) (2007) (defining the crime of first-degree rape); N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-27.4(a)(2) (2007) (defining the crime of first-degree sexual offense). See State v. Adams, 187 N.C. App. 676, 654 S.E.2d 711 (2007). The Supreme Court of North Carolina in Hinton, however, expressly declined to read N.C.G.S. 14-87 in pari materia with N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-33(c)(1), which criminalizes misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon. Hinton, 361 N.C. at 211, 639 S.E.2d at 440. The Court distinguished N.C.G.S. 14-87, in part, because unlike the assault statute, it referred specifically to "firearms" or other "implements" in describing the "types of weapons that suffice under the statute to increase a defendant's sentence." Id. at 212, 639 S.E.2d at 440. According to the Court, this language "indicates that a defendant must use an external weapon to be convicted under N.C.G.S. 14-87." Id. The Court did not address or distinguish the felony assault with a deadly weapon statute under which Defendant here was convicted. See N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-32(b) (2007) (punishing as a felon "any person who assaults another person with a deadly weapon and inflicts serious injury").