Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium


This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.


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E.g., 07/22/2024
E.g., 07/22/2024
State v. Lofton, 372 N.C. 216 (May. 10, 2019)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 816 S.E.2d 207 (2018), the court held that a manufacturing marijuana indictment was not fatally defective. The indictment alleged that the defendant “did manufacture [marijuana] . . . by producing, preparing, propagating and processing a controlled substance.” The defendant was found guilty of attempting to manufacture marijuana and other charges, and he appealed. The offense of manufacturing a controlled substance does not require an intent to distribute unless the activity constituting manufacture is preparation or compounding. Here, the indictment alleged that the defendant manufactured marijuana in four different ways, only one of which required a showing of an intent to distribute. After acknowledging that certain ways in which the defendant allegedly manufactured did not require proof that he acted with an intent to distribute, the Court of Appeals concluded that it was necessary that all four of those bases were alleged with sufficiency to confer jurisdiction on the trial court. The Supreme Court found that conclusion to be inconsistent with prior case law establishing that the use of the conjunctive in an indictment does not require the State to prove the various alternative matters alleged. Assuming without deciding that a valid indictment charging manufacturing by preparing or compounding must allege that the defendant acted with an intent to distribute, the indictment gave the trial court jurisdiction to enter judgment for manufacturing given that it also alleged that he did so by producing, propagating, and processing.

State v. Hinson, 364 N.C. 414 (Oct. 8, 2010)

For the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below, the court reversed State v. Hinson, 203 N.C. App. 172 (Apr. 6, 2010). The defendant was indicted for manufacturing methamphetamine by “chemically combining and synthesizing precursor chemicals to create methamphetamine.” However, the trial judge instructed the jury that it could find the defendant guilty if it found that he produced, prepared, propagated, compounded, converted or processed methamphetamine, either by extraction from substances of natural origin or by chemical synthesis. The court of appeals held, over a dissent, that this was plain error as it allowed the jury to convict on theories not charged in the indictment. The dissenting judge concluded that while the trial court’s instructions used slightly different words than the indictment, the import of both the indictment and the charge were the same. The dissent reasoned that the manufacture of methamphetamine is accomplished by the chemical combination of precursor elements to create methamphetamine and that the charge to the jury, construed contextually as a whole, was correct.

An indictment charging manufacturing of methamphetamine was sufficient. The indictment alleged that the defendant “did knowingly manufacture methamphetamine.” It went on to state that the manufacturing consisted of possessing certain precursor items. The latter language was surplusage; an indictment need not allege how the manufacturing occurred.

An indictment charging trafficking by manufacturing was not defective. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the indictment was fatally defective because it did not adequately describe the manner in which the defendant allegedly manufactured cocaine. It reasoned: “Although Defendant is correct in noting that the indictment does not explicitly delineate the manner in which he manufactured cocaine or a cocaine-related mixture, the relevant statutory language creates a single offense consisting of the manufacturing of a controlled substance rather than multiple offenses depending on the exact manufacturing activity in which Defendant allegedly engaged.”

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