State v. Lindsey, 366 N.C. 325 (Dec. 14, 2012)

For the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below, the court reversed State v. Lindsey, 219 N.C. App. 249 (Mar. 6, 2012). In the opinion below the court of appeals held—over a dissent—that there was insufficient evidence of constructive possession. After the defendant fled from his van, which he had crashed in a Wendy’s parking lot, an officer recovered a hat and a cell phone in the van’s vicinity. No weapons or contraband were found on the defendant or along his flight path. A search of the driver's side seat of the van revealed a "blunt wrapper" and a wallet with $800. Officers discovered a bag containing cocaine and a bag containing marijuana near trash receptacles in the Wendy's parking lot. The officers had no idea how long the bags had been there, and though the Wendy's was closed at the time, the lot was open and had been accessible by the public before the area was secured. Finding the evidence insufficient, the court of appeals noted that the defendant was not at his residence or in a place where he exercised any control; although an officer observed the defendant flee, he did not see the defendant take any actions consistent with disposing of the marijuana and cocaine in two separate locations in the parking lot; there was no physical evidence linking the defendant to the drugs recovered; and no drugs were found on or in the defendant's van. The dissenting court of appeals judge would have found the evidence sufficient to establish constructive possession of the marijuana.

There was dissenting opinion in this case.