State v. Rousseau, 370 N.C. 268 (Nov. 3, 2017)

On appeal from an unpublished decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals which had found no error with respect to the defendant’s maintaining a vehicle conviction, the court affirmed per curiam. The defendant was convicted for maintaining a vehicle for the purpose of keeping a controlled substance. Before the Court of Appeals, he unsuccessfully argued that the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss for insufficiency of the evidence. Specifically, the defendant argued that to prove the “keeping” element of the offense, the State must show that the vehicle was used over time for the illegal activity. The Court of Appeals found the cases cited by the defendant distinguishable, noting that here 29.927 grams of marijuana was found in a plastic bag, tucked in a sock, and placed in a vent inside the vehicle’s engine compartment outside of the passenger area and remnants of marijuana were found throughout the vehicle’s interior. The Court of Appeals noted, in part, that a jury may infer “keeping” from the remnants of the controlled substance found throughout the interior space of the vehicle and a storage space in it for the keeping of controlled substances in the engine compartment.