State v. Wallace

In State v. Wallace, 205 W.Va. 155, 517 S.E.2d 20 (1999), the Court considered whether or not the omission of the term "burglariously" was fatal to an indictment for burglary. The Court found that the adoption of Rule 7(c)(1) of the West Virginia Rules of Criminal Procedure liberalized West Virginia's pleading requirements, and that as long as an indictment adequately informs the accused of the nature of the charge and the elements of the offense, the omission of a particular term will not be fatal to an indictment. Wallace, 205 W.Va. at 161-62, 517 S.E.2d at 26-27. The Court held that in order for an indictment to be sufficient under art. III, 14 of the West Virginia Constitution and Rule 7(c)(1) of the West Virginia Rules of Criminal Procedure, the indictment must: (1) state the elements of the offense charged; (2) put the defendant on fair notice against the charges which he or she must defend; (3) enable a defendant to assert an acquittal or conviction in order to prevent being placed twice in jeopardy. Id. at Syllabus Point 6. The Court further stated that an "assessment of the facial sufficiency of an indictment is limited to its 'four corners,' and, because supplemental pleadings cannot cure an otherwise invalid indictment, courts are precluded from considering evidence from sources beyond the charging instrument." Id. at Syllabus Point 2.