SMITHFIELD — The daughter of Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison was granted a "prayer for judgment continued" last week in a Smithfield courtroom on charges that she was trafficking in prescription pills and other felony drug offenses, court officials confirmed today.
The prayer for judgment continued, or PJC, means Paula Harrison can avoid harsher punishment if she meets certain conditions outlined by prosecutors in the case. Adren Harris, an assistant Johnston County district attorney, declined to say what those conditions are.
Harris also declined to say when Harrison would be sentenced if she failed to meet the conditions of her PJC.
"We haven't put a definite time on it," he said.
Last year, on May 13, Johnston County sheriff's deputies charged Harrison with trafficking opium or heroin, selling or delivering a controlled substance and maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for using, storing or selling drugs.
Investigators accused Harrison, a self-employed single mother, of having two teen accomplices, who were also taken into custody on drug charges.
On Thursday, Harrison appeared in Johnston County Superior Court represented by state Rep. Leo Daughtry of Smithfield.
Her guilty plea in exchange for the PJC was accepted by the Johnston County District Attorney's Office.
Harris said that although the prayer for judgment plea is most often seen in traffic offenses, it can be "used for pretty much anything except murder."
The district attorney's office took into account that Harrison was a first-time offender, Harris said, and that the drugs she is accused of trafficking are prescription pills like Percocet and Oxycodone.
Harris said the district attorney's office would not have accepted a prayer for judgment if she had been charged with trafficking cocaine.
"You have got to look at all of the facts," Harris said. "If we have someone who is addicted to crack and selling crack to get more crack then they may get a similar set up."
Harris declined comment when asked if Paula Harrison was selling prescription pills because she was addicted to them. The prosecutor also brushed aside comments that his office was offering Harrison a sweetheart deal because her father is the sheriff of a neighboring county.
"Because she is his daughter then it's going to be deemed by some as biased, but it's not," Harris said. "I trust that what we are doing is in the best interest of justice."
firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 829-4533