State v. Barnes, 367 N.C. 453 (Apr. 11, 2014)

Over a dissent, the court of appeals held, in part, that the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of possession of a controlled substance on the premises of a local confinement facility. The defendant first argued that the State failed to show that he intentionally brought the substance on the premises. The court held that the offense was a general intent crime. As such, there is no requirement that a defendant has to specifically intend to possess a controlled substance on the premises of a local confinement facility. It stated: “[W]e are simply unable to agree with Defendant’s contention that a conviction . . . requires proof of any sort of specific intent and believe that the relevant offense has been sufficiently shown to exist in the event that the record contains evidence tending to show that the defendant knowingly possessed a controlled substance while in a penal institution or local confinement facility.” The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that his motion should have been granted because he did not voluntarily enter the relevant premises but was brought to the facility by officers against his wishes. The court rejected this argument concluding, “a defendant may be found guilty of possession of a controlled substance in a local confinement facility even though he was not voluntarily present in the facility in question.” Following decisions from other jurisdictions, the court reasoned that while a voluntary act is required, “the necessary voluntary act occurs when the defendant knowingly possesses the controlled substance.” The court also concluded that the fact that officers may have failed to warn the defendant that taking a controlled substance into the jail would constitute a separate offense, was of no consequence. 

There was dissenting opinion in this case.