Appeal by respondent from juvenile adjudication and
disposition orders entered 7 November 2005 by Judge Robert B. Rader
in Wake County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 19
Roy Cooper, Attorney General, by Letitia C. Echols, Assistant
Attorney General, for the State.
Gilda C. Rodriguez for respondent-appellant.
MARTIN, Chief Judge.
Respondent appeals from an order adjudicating him delinquent
based upon findings that he was in possession of marijuana in
violation of N.C.G.S. § 90-95(d)(4).
The State's evidence tended to show that on 28 February 2005,
Wake County Deputy Sheriff Jennifer Brame came across a Honda CRX
stranded in the woods near Holly Springs, North Carolina. The
Deputy testified that she was patrolling the area due to recent
instances of littering, as well as concern regarding consumption of
marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms in the locality. Shortly
after her arrival at the scene, Deputy Brame was joined by Deputy
Carroll. Respondent K.C.S. was a passenger in the Honda CRX. The
driver consented to a search of the car, which resulted in the
discovery of the remnants of four marijuana cigarettes toward the
passenger side of the car. A K-9 unit arrived at the scene shortly
thereafter, and a small amount of additional marijuana was
recovered in the woods near the stranded CRX. The driver and
K.C.S. both denied ownership of any of the marijuana.
At the adjudication hearing, the trial court denied the
respondent's motion to strike the testimony of Deputy Carroll. At
the close of the evidence, the respondent moved to dismiss, which
the trial court also denied. Thereafter, the trial court found
that the allegations with respect to simple possession of marijuana
had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and ordered the
respondent to perform twelve hours of community service, and placed
him on probation for six months, subject to several conditions.
The respondent appeals.
The respondent presents two arguments in support of three of
the six assignments of error contained in the record on appeal. We
will not consider nor discuss the remaining assignments of error.
N.C. R. App. P. 28 (a).
First, the respondent contends that the trial court erred in
failing to dismiss the charges against defendant due to flaws in
the juvenile petition. [A] petition in a juvenile action serves
essentially the same function as an indictment in a felony
prosecution and is subject to the same requirement that it averevery element of a criminal offense, with sufficient specificity
that the accused is clearly apprised of the conduct for which he is
being charged. In re Griffin
, 162 N.C. App. 487, 493, 592 S.E.2d
12, 16 (2004); see
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1802 (2006).
A criminal charge is constitutionally sufficient if it
apprises the defendant of the charge against him with enough
certainty to enable him to prepare his defense, protect[s] him
from subsequent prosecution for the same offense, and if it
enable[s] the court to know what judgment to pronounce in the
event of conviction. State v. Coker
, 312 N.C. 432, 434-35, 323
S.E.2d 343, 346 (1984).
In this case, the petition alleged that K.C.S. did unlawfully
and willfully possess marijuana, a controlled substance which is
included in Schedule VI of the North Carolina Controlled Substance
Act, in violation of G.S. 90-95(d)(4). Therefore, the juvenile
was apprised of the nature of his alleged offense, along with the
elements of the charge: the wilful possession of a controlled
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(a)(3), (d)(4)(2006).
The juvenile places great stress on the apparent confusion
between Deputy Carroll and the District Attorney as to which cache
of marijuana he was charged with possessing. However intriguing,
the confusion is tangential to the critical statutory test: was the
juvenile aware of the conduct at issue, and the offense with which
he was charged. The underlying facts, language of the petition,
and even the form used to file the petition - AOC-J-331 Juvenile
Petition Possession of Schedule VI Controlled Substance made itabundantly clear the crime with which the juvenile is accused. The
information was adequate to permit him to prepare a defense.
Therefore, this argument has no merit and is overruled.
Second, the respondent contends that the trial court lacked
jurisdiction to try him. He premises this argument on his
contention that the petition was defective. Since we have already
addressed the validity of the petition, and found it conforming to
the statutory requirements, this argument also lacks merit, and is
Finally, the respondent argues the trial court erred in
denying his motion to dismiss because there was insufficient
evidence of the alleged marijuana. The same standards of proof
that apply in criminal proceedings against adults are also used to
evaluate the evidence presented against juveniles in a delinquency
adjudication proceeding. See In re Heil
, 145 N.C. App. 24, 28, 550
S.E.2d 815, 819 (2001). Upon a motion to dismiss by a juvenile
respondent, the trial court must determine whether there is
'substantial evidence (1) of each essential element of the offense
charged,... and (2) of [juvenile's] being the perpetrator of such
Substantial evidence may consist of direct or circumstantial
evidence or both. State v. Butler
, 356 N.C. 141, 145, 567 S.E.2d
137, 140 (2002). In making this determination, the trial court
must assess the evidence in the light most favorable to the State
and disregard respondent's evidence where it contradicts that of
the State. See State v. Jones
, 147 N.C. App. 527, 545, 556 S.E.2d644, 655 (2001), disc. review denied
, 355 N.C. 351, 562 S.E.2d 427
Reviewing the totality of the evidence, we cannot agree with
the respondent. His temporal and spatial proximity to both caches
of marijuana, the strong and lingering odor in the car, the absence
of any other individuals in the area, the respondent's explanations
to Deputy Brame and the known usage of the area for marijuana and
are all relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support the trial court's conclusion that he
was in simple possession of marijuana. State v. Franklin
, 327 N.C.
162, 171, 393 S.E.2d 781, 787 (1990). Therefore, this argument has
no merit, and is overruled.
Judges ELMORE and JACKSON concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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