In the Matter of J.S.G., 2021-NCCOA-40 (March 2, 2021)

  • Facts: A student reported that the juvenile had given him Adderall. The juvenile stated that he had given the student an ibuprofen. A petition charging the juvenile with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (G.S. 90-95(a)(1)) was filed. The petition stated that the juvenile delivered “1 orange pill believed/told to be Adderall[.]” Juvenile was adjudicated delinquent for possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance and placed on probation under a level 1 disposition.


  • Opinion: Juvenile petitions serve essentially the same function as criminal indictments and are subject to the same requirement that they aver every element of a criminal offense, with sufficient specificity that clearly apprises the juvenile of the charged conduct. A fatally deficient petition fails to evoke the jurisdiction of the court. The offense of possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver has three elements: (1) possession of a substance; (2) the substance must be a controlled substance; and (3) there must be intent to sell or distribute the controlled substance. The petition cannot be based on a guess about whether the substance was a controlled substance or not. This petition only stated that the juvenile delivered something that was believed to be, and the State was told, was a controlled substance. The identification of the controlled substance is a crucial element of the offense. It is unclear whether a controlled substance was involved at all in this matter. The adjudication and disposition orders are vacated because the petition failed to properly allege the offense. The court also noted that, while additional issues raised on appeal do not need to be addressed, the lay testimony of the SRO regarding identification of the pill would not be competent evidence to identify the controlled substance. Expert witness testimony, based on a scientifically valid chemical analysis, is required to establish that a pill is a controlled substance.
Juvenile Petitions
Sufficiency of Allegations
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