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North Carolina v. Breathette

Court of Appeals of North Carolina
690 S.E.2d 1 (2010)


Facts

Nineteen-year-old Yasmin Breathette (defendant) met 13-year-old B.W. (Beth) on the website MySpace. Beth’s MySpace page said that she was 99 years old. Beth later said that she did not want people on MySpace to know her real age. When Breathette asked Beth how old she was, Beth said that she was 17 years old. Beth and Breathette began contacting each other via texts and phone calls. Soon after meeting online, Breathette brought Beth to her apartment to spend the weekend together. Breathette and Beth engaged in sexual relations throughout the weekend, but after an argument, Beth sought help from Breathette’s friend. The police were called, and Beth was taken home. The police interviewed Breathette, who said that she and Beth had met online and wanted to date each other. Breathette admitted that she and Beth engaged in sexual relations. Breathette was arrested and charged with taking indecent liberties with a minor. At trial, Breathette testified about first meeting Beth on MySpace, and said that she later found Beth on another website for people of all sexual persuasions. Breathette testified that she believed Beth was over 18 years old because the website required all visitors to confirm they were 18 years or older before entering the website. The defense asked the trial court to instruct the jury that if Breathette reasonably but mistakenly believed that Beth was over 15 years old, Breathette did not have the requisite intent to commit the crime and should be acquitted. The trial court refused, and Breathette was convicted. Breathette appealed, arguing that the trial court’s refusal to issue the requested jury instruction on the defense of mistake of age was reversible error.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hunter, J.)

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