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State v. Royster

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

February 3, 2015

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
THOMAS LEE ROYSTER, Defendant

Heard in the Court of Appeals November 4, 2014

Attorney General Roy A. Cooper, III, by Assistant Attorney Generals Michael E. Bulleri and Kimberly N. Callahan, for the State.

Assistant Public Defender Julie Ramseur Lewis, for defendant-appellant.

STROUD, Judge. Judges CALABRIA and McCULLOUGH concur.

OPINION

Appeal by defendant from judgment entered on 8 November 2013 by Judge Linwood O. Foust in Superior Court, Mecklenburg County, No. 12CRS232555.

STROUD, Judge.

Thomas Lee Royster (" defendant" ) appeals from a judgment entered upon a plea agreement in which he pled guilty to felonious possession of marijuana. Defendant argues that the trial court erred in ordering him to forfeit $400. We dismiss the appeal.

I. Background

Around 3:00 p.m. on 23 July 2012, while in a marked police car, Officers Shawn Soloman and Justin Coleman observed defendant driving in the parking lot of a Charlotte hotel. Officer Soloman observed that defendant had a rigid posture, avoided making eye contact with him, and appeared to be pretending to use a cell phone. Officer Soloman checked the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicle's records and discovered that defendant's vehicle had an inspection violation and that its tag had expired. After defendant exited his vehicle, Officer Soloman approached him on foot and asked him for his driver's license. Defendant responded that his driver's license was in his vehicle and walked back to his vehicle.

Defendant searched for his driver's license with the driver's side door open. After defendant presented his driver's license, Officer Soloman detected a slight odor of marijuana but could not localize it at that point. Officer Soloman returned to the police car with defendant's

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driver's license, and Officer Coleman walked over to the driver's side door of defendant's vehicle. A breeze began blowing and then Officer Coleman noticed a strong odor of unburned marijuana coming from defendant's vehicle. After Officer Coleman informed Officer Soloman of the odor, Officer Soloman asked defendant for consent to search his vehicle, and defendant consented. During the search, behind the glove box Officer Coleman discovered a bag of fresh, green marijuana and a digital scale with a green leafy substance on it. When they searched defendant, the officers also discovered and seized $400 in cash. Officer Soloman arrested defendant.

On or about 10 December 2012, a grand jury indicted defendant for possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession with intent to sell or deliver a controlled substance. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 90-95(a)(1), (d)(4), -113.22 (2011). On 11 April 2013, defendant moved to suppress the evidence of marijuana. After a hearing on 25 July 2013, the trial court orally denied the motion. At a hearing on 8 November 2013, defendant pled guilty of felony possession of marijuana pursuant to a plea agreement. See id. § 90-95(d)(4). In the plea agreement, the State dismissed the remaining charges, and defendant reserved his right to appeal the trial court's order denying his motion to suppress. On 8 November 2013, pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced defendant to four to fourteen months' imprisonment but suspended the sentence and placed defendant on twenty-four months' supervised probation.

At the 8 November hearing, the prosecutor requested that defendant forfeit the $400 in cash that the officers had seized. Although the record is unclear, it appears that the trial court ordered that defendant forfeit the ...


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