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.