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., 06/27/2024
E.g., 06/27/2024

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by entering judgment for two separate counts of manufacturing methamphetamine. The defendant had argued that the crime was a single continuing offense and that therefore one of the conviction should be vacated. However two separate methamphetamine labs were discovered, in the trunk of a vehicle and in a storage unit. It was clear that the separate and distinct locations contained two separate methamphetamine manufacturing processes. Thus, the trial court did not err by entering judgment for two separate counts of manufacturing methamphetamine.

The trial court properly determined that a charge of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine was a Class C felony. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that G.S. 14-2.4(a) required punishment as a Class D felony (“Unless a different classification is expressly stated, a person who is convicted of a conspiracy to commit a felony is guilty of a felony that is one class lower than the felony he or she conspired to commit[.]”). Here, G.S. 90-98 requires that conviction for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine is punished at the same level as manufacture of methamphetamine.

There was sufficient evidence of manufacturing methamphetamine. An officer observed the defendant and another person at the scene for approximately 40 minutes. Among the items recovered were a handbag containing a syringe and methamphetamine, a duffle bag containing a clear two liter bottle containing methamphetamine, empty boxes and blister packs of pseudoephedrine, a full pseudoephedrine blister pack, an empty pack of lithium batteries, a lithium battery from which the lithium had been removed, iodized salt, sodium hydroxide, drain opener, funnels, tubing, coffee filters, syringes, various items of clothing, and a plastic bottle containing white and pink granular material. The defendant’s presence at the scene, the evidence recovered, the officer’s testimony that the defendant and his accomplice were going back and forth in the area, moving bottles, and testimony that the defendant gave instructions to his accomplice to keep the smoke out of her eyes was sufficient evidence of manufacturing.

(1) The trial court did not commit plain error by failing to instruct the jury that to convict the defendant for trafficking by compounding it had to find he did so with an intent to distribute. Because the evidence showed that the defendant also manufactured by packaging and repackaging, the court concluded that the defendant failed to establish that a different outcome would probably have been reached had the instruction at issue been delivered at trial. (2) The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the evidence was insufficient to show trafficking in cocaine by manufacture. Where officers find cocaine or a cocaine-related mixture and an array of items used to package and distribute that substance, the evidence suffices to support a manufacturing conviction. Here, State’s evidence showed that more than 28 grams of cocaine and several items that are commonly used to weigh, separate, and package cocaine for sale were seized from the defendant’s bedroom.

(1) Reiterating that in a manufacturing case based on preparing or compounding the State must prove intent to distribute, the court found that no plain error had occurred where such a jury instruction was lacking. (2)No double jeopardy violation occurred when the defendant was convicted of trafficking in methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine, and possession of methamphetamine based on the same illegal substance.

State v. Hinson, 203 N.C. App. 172 (Apr. 6, 2010) rev’d on other grounds, 364 N.C. 414 (Oct 8 2010)

The offense of manufacturing a controlled substance does not require an intent to distribute unless the activity constituting manufacture is preparing or compounding. An indictment charging the defendant with manufacturing methamphetamine “by chemically combining and synthesizing precursor chemicals” does not charge compounding but rather charges chemically synthesizing and thus the State was not required to prove an intent to distribute.

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