Possession of Separate Caches of Drugs Discovered on the Same Day

In State v. Smith, 99 N.C. App. 67, 392 S.E.2d 642 (1990), the Court determined defendants' possession of separate caches of cocaine discovered on the same day in different locations within defendants' residence would support only one possession conviction. In Smith, officers searched defendants' residence and found .22 grams of cocaine in a plastic bottle on top of a dresser and 2.1 grams of cocaine in seventeen baggies hidden nearby between the bed and wall. Id., 99 N.C. App. at 74, 392 S.E.2d at 646-47. Defendants were convicted of one count of felony possession of cocaine. Id., 99 N.C. App at 69, 392 S.E.2d at 644. On appeal, defendants argued that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of misdemeanor possession of cocaine. Id., 99 N.C. App. at 74, 392 S.E.2d at 646. Although defendants failed to properly preserve the issue for appellate review, this Court noted that if the issue had been preserved, it would have overruled defendants' arguments. Id. The Court agreed with the State's argument that if possession of multiple caches of the same drug must be considered separate possessions, then "drug dealers could simply divide cocaine into packages containing less than one gram each to avoid being prosecuted for a felony." Id., 99 N.C. App. at 74, 392 S.E.2d at 647.