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North Carolina v. Mitchell

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant entered a store. The clerk observed something in Defendant’s pocket and inquired about it. Defendant stated it was marijuana, and the clerk called the police. The State charged Defendant with possession of more than 1.5 ounces marijuana. Defendant claims the State did not meet its burden in proving the requisite amount of marijuana in his possession, more than one-half or more than one and one-half ounces.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    The jury cannot find the existence of a fact solely by an in-court observation when the jury does not posses the required knowledge or expertise to infer the fact from the evidence presented.

    Facts.

    The jury cannot find the existence of a fact solely by an in-court observation when the jury does not posses the required knowledge or expertise to infer the fact from the evidence presented.

    Issue.

    The jury cannot find the existence of a fact solely by an in-court observation when the jury does not posses the required knowledge or expertise to infer the fact from the evidence presented.

    Held.

    No, the record does not suggest that the State proved that the marijuana weighed more than one-half or more than one and one-half ounces, as required under possession of marijuana of more than 1.5 ounces.

    Discussion.

    For the State to convict a defendant in this jurisdiction of possession of marijuana of more than 1.5 ounces, a more serious charge than simple possession, the State must provide “that the marijuana which defendant possessed weighed more than one-half ounce to convict of the general misdemeanor and more than one and one-half ounces to convict of the felony[.]†Moreover, to prove the weight of the marijuana, the State must either offer the measured weight of the marijuana or demonstrate that a reasonable inference of the quantity of the marijuana satisfies the element. In this case, the State sought to prove the weight of the marijuana by introducing two bags of marijuana seized by the store clerk, State’s Exhibit 1 and 2. Here, the record solely shows that there were two rolled bags found in defendant’s shirt, without any description of the size of the bag or how full the bag was. Further, the jury cannot themselves determine the weight of the marijuana by simply observing it. Therefore, the State did not meet its’ burden of proving that Defendant possessed more than one-half or more than one and one-half ounces of marijuana.



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