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In Re Levi E., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. Levi E

September 22, 2011

IN RE LEVI E., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
LEVI E., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. JV131669)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robie J

In re Levi E. CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

In this juvenile delinquency case, Levi E. (the minor) was found to have committed the following offenses: driving under the influence; driving without a license; possession of less than 28.5 grams of marijuana; a curfew violation; and riding a bicycle in the dark without the required bicycle light. The juvenile court declared the minor a ward of the court and committed him to the care and custody of his mother, under the supervision of the probation department.

The minor contends on appeal there is insufficient evidence to support the true finding on possession of marijuana. We affirm.

FACTS

On May 9, 2010, at around 12:20 a.m., a California Highway Patrol officer stopped the minor for driving a car with expired registration. The minor told the officer his age, which was too young for a driver's license. A strong odor of marijuana emanated from his vehicle, the minor's eyes were bloodshot, his face was flush, his pupils were dilated, and he failed several field sobriety tests.

On June 23, 2010, at around 10:45 p.m., Sacramento Police Officer Ethan Hanson stopped the minor, who was riding a bicycle on the wrong side of the street without a light. Asked if he had any contraband, the minor said he had marijuana in his left pants pocket. The minor consented to a search, and Officer Hanson found a pill bottle in the minor's pocket. Officer Hanson opened the bottle and found "a green vegetable substance" he recognized as marijuana.

DISCUSSION

The minor asserts there is insufficient evidence that he possessed a useable amount of marijuana to support the true finding on possession of marijuana. We disagree.

"When the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged on appeal, we apply the familiar substantial evidence rule. We review the whole record in a light most favorable to the judgment to determine whether it contains substantial evidence, i.e., evidence that is credible and of solid value, from which a rational trier of fact could find beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offense. [Citations.]" (In re Ryan D. (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 854, 859.) "An appellate court must accept logical inferences that the [finder of fact] might have drawn from the circumstantial evidence." (People v. Maury (2003) 30 Cal.4th 342, 396.)

In order to establish possession of a controlled substance, the evidence must show dominion and control over the substance in a quantity usable for consumption, with knowledge of its presence and of its controlled substance character. (People v. Palaschak (1995) 9 Cal.4th 1236, 1242.) These elements can be proven by circumstantial evidence. (Ibid.)

The minor relies on People v. Leal (1966) 64 Cal.2d 504, which held possession of trace elements of a controlled substance not usable for sale or consumption cannot support a possession charge. In Leal, a search of the defendant's residence revealed a wad of cotton, an eyedropper, a hypodermic needle, and a spoon containing 32 milligrams of a crystallized substance containing heroin. (Id. at p. 505.) In reversing the defendant's conviction for possession of the heroin (id. at p. 504), the Supreme Court indicated: "[I]n penalizing a person who possesses a narcotic the Legislature proscribed possession of a substance that has a narcotic potential; it condemned the commodity that could be used as such. It did not refer to useless traces or residue of such substance. Hence ...


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