The issues on appeal are whether: (I) defendant received
ineffective assistance of counsel at trial; (II) the trial courterred by denying defendant's motion to dismiss; and (III) the trial
court erred in instructing the jury.
 Defendant first argues that he received ineffective
assistance of counsel at trial. Defendant asserts he is entitled to
a new trial because his trial counsel failed to move to suppress his
inculpatory statement to law enforcement officers as well as the
evidence seized during the search of his person. We disagree.
When a defendant attacks his conviction on the basis that
counsel was ineffective, he must show that his counsel's conduct fell
below an objective standard of reasonableness. State v. Braswell
312 N.C. 553, 561-62, 324 S.E.2d 241, 248 (1985). To establish
ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must satisfy the
following two-part test
First, the defendant must show that counsel's
performance was deficient. This requires showing
that counsel made errors so serious that counsel
was not functioning as the counsel guaranteed
the defendant by the Sixth Amendment. Second,
the defendant must show that the deficient
performance prejudiced the defense. This
requires showing that counsel's errors were so
serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair
trial, a trial whose result is reliable.
Strickland v. Washington
, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674, 693
(1984). When reviewing an ineffective assistance of counsel claim,
our appellate courts engage in a presumption that [the] trial
counsel's representation [wa]s within the boundaries of acceptable
professional conduct. State v. Roache
, 358 N.C. 243, 280, 595
S.E.2d 381, 406 (2004). The fact that counsel made an error, even
an unreasonable error, does not warrant reversal of a conviction
unless there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel'serrors, there would have been a different result in the proceedings.
, 312 N.C. at 563, 324 S.E.2d at 248. Thus, if a reviewing
court can determine at the outset that there is no reasonable
probability that in the absence of counsel's alleged errors the
result of the proceeding would have been different, then the court
need not determine whether counsel's performance was actually
. at 563, 324 S.E.2d at 249. In the instant case,
because we conclude there was no meritorious basis to support
suppression of defendant's statements or the marijuana found on his
person, we conclude defendant's trial counsel did not provide
ineffective assistance by failing to move to suppress the evidence.
The record reflects that immediately prior to being strip
searched, defendant informed the officers that he had residue in
his right sock. Defendant contends that this inculpatory statement
as well as the evidence seized pursuant to it were inadmissible at
trial because they were a product of custodial interrogation held
without first advising him of his Miranda
rights. We do not agree.
In State v. Phelps
, the defendant was arrested on two
outstanding warrants and transported to the county jail. 156 N.C.
App. 119, 121, 575 S.E.2d 818, 820 (2003). Although no contraband
was found during a search incident to his arrest, on the way to the
jail a law enforcement officer explained to [the defendant] that he
needed to let [the officer] know . . . before [they] went past the
jail doors if he had any kind of illegal substances or weapons on
him, that it was an automatic felony no matter what it was . . . .
. The defendant thereafter confessed to possession of cocaine.
Both the law enforcement officer's comments and the defendant'sinculpatory statement were made prior to the defendant being advised
of his Miranda
rights. On appeal, it was determined that the officer
knew or should have known that his statement was reasonably likely
to evoke an incriminating response from the defendant, and thus the
rights were violated. Id
. at 123, 575 S.E.2d at
821. However, with respect to the cocaine seized following the
interrogation, it was held that because the defendant's statement
was not a product of coercion, evidence seized subsequently and
pursuant to the statement was admissible and would not qualify as
fruit of the poisonous tree. Id
. at 124-26, 575 S.E.2d at 822-23.
We concluded that even if a Miranda
violation had occurred, the
crack cocaine was . . . admissible. Id
. at 126, 575 S.E.2d at 823.
(See footnote 1)
As in Phelps
, the transcript in the instant case reflects that,
while in custody but prior to being advised of his Miranda
defendant was told several times that discovery of any controlled
substance on his person after he arrived at the Forsyth County Law
Enforcement and Detention Center would result in a felony charge.
However, unlike in Phelps
, defendant made no incriminating statement
in response to these custodial statements. Instead, defendant madehis incriminating statement after he arrived at the Detention Center
and just prior to being strip searched.
When examining the circumstances surrounding an alleged
custodial interrogation, courts focus on the suspect's perceptions
rather than the intent of law enforcement officers. State v.
, 352 N.C. 364, 406, 533 S.E.2d 168, 199 (2000) (citing Rhode
Island v. Innis
, 446 U.S. 291, 301, 64 L. Ed. 2d 297, 308 (1980)
, 532 U.S. 931, 149 L. Ed. 2d 305 (2001). Generally,
[t]he term 'interrogation' is not limited to express questioning by
law enforcement officers, but also includes 'any words or actions on
the part of the police . . . that the police should know are
reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the
, 352 N.C. at 406, 533 S.E.2d at 199 (quoting
, 446 U.S. at 301, 64 L. Ed. 2d at 308). However, because 'the
police surely cannot be held accountable for the unforeseeable
results of their words or actions, the definition of interrogation
can extend only to words or actions on the part of police officers
that they should have known
were reasonably likely to elicit an
incriminating response.' Golphin
, 352 N.C. at 406, 533 S.E.2d at 199
, 446 U.S. at 301-02, 64 L. Ed. 2d at 308)) (emphasis
In the case sub judice
, after being asked to explain what
happened inside the search room[,] Officer Bradshaw testified as
After I informed [defendant] that we were going
to be completing a strip search of him inside
the search room, myself and, at the time,
Corporal Patterson, [defendant] advised me that
he had some, quote, residue in his right sock.
As detailed above, defendant had rebuffed several prior attempts by
the law enforcement officers to elicit information regarding
defendant's possession of a controlled substance. At the time
defendant made his statement, the officers were merely informing him
of the extent of their then-impending search. There is no indication
that the officers' comments at that time were . . . intended nor
reasonably expected to elicit an incriminating response from
defendant. State v. Vick
, 341 N.C. 569, 581, 461 S.E.2d 655, 662
(1995) (concluding that police captain's statements during
fingerprinting that he would talk with the defendant later and answer
any of the defendant's questions at that time were not intended or
expected to elicit an incriminating response). Instead, we conclude
that the officers' comments qualify as those normally attendant to
arrest and custody, and are thus not considered as questions or
interrogation for purposes of Miranda
. See Innis
, 446 U.S. at
300-02, 64 L. Ed. 2d at 307-08 (concluding that '[i]nterrogation,'
as conceptualized in the Miranda
opinion, must reflect a measure of
compulsion above and beyond that inherent in custody itself[,] and
that the term 'interrogation' under Miranda
does not extend to
words or actions on the part of the police . . . normally attendant
to arrest and custody). Therefore, any incriminating statement made
by defendant and any evidence seized following these comments were
properly admissible at trial. In light of the foregoing, and because
defendant is unable to demonstrate a reasonable probability that,
but for [his] counsel's [failure to move to suppress the evidence],
the result of the proceeding would have been different[,]
, 466 U.S. at 694, 80 L. Ed. 2d at 698, we hold thatdefendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.
Accordingly, we reject defendant's first argument.
 Defendant next argues that the trial court erred by denying
his motion to dismiss the charge of possession of a controlled
substance on the premises of a local confinement facility. Although
he concedes that the magistrate's office, its lobby, and its search
rooms are each located inside the Forsyth County Law Enforcement and
Detention Center, defendant contends that the legislature did not
intend N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(e)(9) to apply in these areas. We
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(e)(9) (2003) provides that [a]ny person
who [possesses a controlled substance] on the premises of a penal
institution or local confinement facility shall be guilty of a Class
H felony. In support of his contention, defendant notes that while
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(e)(9) does not define the term local
confinement facility, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-217 (2003) provides the
following definition for the term:
Local confinement facility includes a county
or city jail, a local lockup, a regional or
district jail, a juvenile detention facility, a
detention facility for adults operated by a
local government, and any other facility
operated by a local government for confinement
of persons awaiting trial or serving
sentences . . . .
Thus, defendant asserts that because the magistrate is an officer of
the district court and the magistrate's office is separate from the
actual housing where the inmates would be sleeping and conducting
their daily activities, reading N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(e)(9) to
include the area at issue leads to an absurd result not contemplatedby the legislature. We do not agree.
It is well established that the primary endeavor of statutory
interpretation is to give effect to the legislature's intent. See
State v. Beck
, 359 N.C. 611, 614, 614 S.E.2d 274, 276-77 (2005).
Where a statute's language is clear and unambiguous, the court should
give its words their plain and definite meaning. Id
. at 614, 614
S.E.2d at 277. However, where a statute is ambiguous, courts will
construe the statute to ascertain the legislative will[,] mindful
that where a literal interpretation of the language of a statute
will lead to absurd results, or contravene the manifest purpose of
the Legislature, . . . the reason and purpose of the law shall
control and the strict letter thereof shall be disregarded. Id
(citations and quotation marks omitted).
Although we note that other statutes prohibit certain actions by
individuals in the custody of any local confinement facility, see,
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-258.2 (prohibiting the possession of a
dangerous weapon by any person under the custody of any local
confinement facility as defined in G.S. 153A-217), N.C. Gen. Stat.
§ 14-258.3 (prohibiting the taking, holding, or carrying away of any
hostages by any person in the custody of any local confinement
facility (as defined by G.S. 153A-217)), and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-
258.4 (prohibiting the wilful throwing, emitting, or projecting of
bodily fluids or excrement at any person who is an employee of the
State or a local government by [a]ny person in the custody
of . . . any local confinement facility (as defined in G.S. 153A-217,
or G.S. 153A-230.1)), we also note that, by its plain language, N.C.
Gen. Stat. § 90-95(e)(9) is not restricted solely to thoseindividuals in custody of a local confinement facility or those
actions occurring at a particular section of the facility. Instead,
unlike N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-258.2, 14-258.3, and 14-258.4, N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 90-95(e)(9) clearly extends to any person possessing a
controlled substance at a local confinement facility, and the scope
of its coverage expressly includes the premises of such facilities.
Black's Law Dictionary notes that premises is an elastic and
inclusive term when used to refer to estates and property, in that
it does not have one definite and fixed meaning; its meaning is to
be determined by its context and is dependent on the circumstances in
which used[.] (6th ed. 1990). In the context of criminal law,
[t]he term as used in a search warrant includes land, buildings, and
appurtenances thereto. Id
. In the case at bar, testimony at trial
tended to show that, in order to enter the area of the Forsyth County
Law Enforcement and Detention Center at issue, law enforcement
officers must first proceed through a locked vehicle gate and then
check their weapons and identify themselves via an intercom system.
The secured lobby of the facility contains three temporary holding
cells, as well as access to the area where jail personnel and more
permanent cells are located. Only law enforcement officers and those
individuals in custody or under special arrangements are allowed to
enter the area. While the room in which defendant was searched is
just on the other side of the door allowing entry into the
magistrate's lobby, it is nevertheless a secured room where law
enforcement officers detain and search those individuals who are to
be taken before the magistrate.
Our Supreme Court has consistently held that criminal statutesare generally construed narrowly against the State and in favor of
the accused. See, e.g., State v. Hearst
, 356 N.C. 132, 136, 567
S.E.2d 124, 128 (2002). However, this rule is not violated 'by
permitting the words of [a] statute to have their full meaning, or
the more extended of two meanings, . . . but the words should be
taken in such a sense, bent neither one way nor the other, as will
best manifest the legislative intent.' State v. Raines
, 319 N.C.
258, 263, 354 S.E.2d 486, 489-90 (1987) (quoting United States v.
, 73 U.S. 385, 396, 18 L. Ed. 830, 833 (1868)). Thus, [t]he
canon in favor of strict construction [of criminal statutes] is not
an inexorable command to override common sense and evident statutory
purpose. . . . Nor does it demand that a statute be given the
'narrowest meaning'; it is satisfied if the words are given their
fair meaning in accord with the manifest intent of the lawmakers.
United States v. Brown
, 333 U.S. 18, 25-26, 92 L. Ed. 442, 448
In light of the foregoing, and giving the word premises in
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(e)(9) its plain meaning, we conclude that the
legislature intended to cover that portion of the Forsyth County Law
Enforcement and Detention Center at issue in the instant case. The
legislative intent in making possession of a controlled substance on
the premises of a local confinement facility felonious is clear: to
deter and prevent drug possession among those individuals present at
local confinement facilities. By including the term on the premises
of in its description of the restricted area, the legislature
plainly intended that N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(e)(9) should extend
beyond the bounds of the lockup area of a local confinementfacility, including to those secured areas in which arrestees are
temporarily detained for search, booking, and other purposes.
Therefore, the trial court did not err by denying defendant's motion
to dismiss the charge of possession of a controlled substance on the
premises of a local confinement facility. Accordingly, we reject
defendant's second argument.
 Defendant next argues the trial court erred in its jury
instructions. Although defendant concedes he failed to object to
this alleged error at trial, he now asserts the trial court committed
plain error by instructing the jury that [t]he Forsyth County
Detention Center is a local confinement facility. We disagree.
A prerequisite to [an appellate court's] engaging in a 'plain
error' analysis is the determination that the instruction constitutes
'error' at all. State v. Torain
, 316 N.C. 111, 116, 340 S.E.2d 465,
468, cert. denied
, 479 U.S. 836, 93 L. Ed. 2d 77 (1986). Once we
have determined that the trial court erred, 'before deciding that an
error by the trial court amounts to plain error, [we] must be
convinced that absent the error the jury probably would have reached
a different verdict.' Id
. (quoting State v. Walker
, 316 N.C. 33,
39, 340 S.E.2d 80, 83 (1986)).
In the case sub judice
, defendant contends that the trial
court's instruction preempted the jury's determination and that
[t]he real question needing to be decided by the jury was not
whether the Forsyth County Detention Center was a local confinement
facility, but rather, whether the magistrate's office
[defendant] was searched and the marijuana was found, located in the
Forsyth County Detention Center, was a local confinement facility. However, we believe defendant mischaracterizes the facts of this
case. The Forsyth County Law Enforcement and Detention Center is a
multiple-use building which includes, among other things, a jail, the
sheriff's office, and the magistrate's office. As discussed above,
law enforcement officers discovered marijuana on defendant's person
not while he was in the magistrate's office, but while he was in a
secured area of the Forsyth County Law Enforcement and Detention
Center provided for the detention and search of individuals awaiting
appearance before the magistrate. The determination of whether this
area was on the premises of a local confinement facility involved
the interpretation of the bounds of a statute, which is a question of
law for the trial court, not a question of fact for the jury. As the
trial court made a proper determination regarding the applicability
of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(e)(9) to the facts of the instant case, we
conclude the trial court did not err in instructing the jury.
Therefore, we reject defendant's final argument.
In light of the foregoing, we hold that defendant received a
trial free of prejudicial error.
Judges HUDSON and ELMORE concur.