NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The NC Appeals Court has ruled that a sex offender’s 2006 conviction be vacated due to missing language in court documents.
On July 26, 2004, a grand jury indicted Cornelius Nixon, 44, for committing a Crime Against Nature.
Between that date and March 2006, Nixon was also charged with Indecent Liberties with a Child and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. In a plea deal, Nixon pleaded guilty to the charges of Indecent Liberties with a Child and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, in exchange the charge of Crime Against Nature was dismissed.
However, Nixon was never indicted on the charges to which he pleaded guilty, nor did the Bill of Information he signed contain language waiving indictment and no waiver of indictment was attached to the Bill of Information.
Nixon served 19 months in prison and was placed on the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry.
On November 7, 2017, Nixon filed a “motion for appropriate relief,” seeking relief from criminal convictions claiming in part that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over all the charges because no waiver of indictment was attached to or executed to the Bill of Information, such that the Defendant had not validly waived indictment.
The trial court denied his claim, finding that Nixon had signed the Bill of Information and had “acknowledged that he had received notice of the charges against him, which operated as a waiver of Defendant’s right to an indictment.”
The appeals court found that the absence of a formal wavier signed by both Nixon and his counsel on or attached to the Bill of Information … deprived the trial court of jurisdiction to accept Nixon’s guilty plea.
The appeals court ruled this be remanded to the trial court with instructions to grant the motion for relief and to vacate the March 2006 judgement against Nixon.