MILLER, P. J., ANDREWS, and SELF, JJ.
Miller, Presiding Judge.
Budhani was convicted of three counts of unlawful sale of a
schedule 1 controlled substance, known as XLR11, in violation
of OCGA § 16-13-30 (b) (2014) for sales occurring on
three separate dates, and one count of unlawful possession
with intent to distribute of the Schedule 1 controlled
substance XLR11 in violation of OCGA § 16-13-30 (b)
(2014). Budhani appeals, alleging that (1) the indictment
against him was void for failure to allege essential elements
of the crimes; (2) the trial court erred in denying his
motion to dismiss a juror for cause; and (3) the trial court
erred in admitting his custodial statement upon finding that
it was voluntarily given. For the following reasons, we
in the light most favorable to the verdict,  the evidence
shows that between October and December 2014, police used a
confidential informant to conduct three controlled buys of
XLR11, a synthetic form of marijuana, from Budhani. In
December, police executed a search warrant for the gas
station where Budhani worked and where the sales took place,
and they located additional packages of synthetic marijuana.
Defendant admits all of the packages obtained during the
controlled buys and the search contain XLR11. Each of the
packages has a label that reads that the contents are
"not for human consumption."
his arrest, Budhani was taken to the police station where he
was given a Miranda warning and questioned by police.
The interrogation was recorded. Officers indicated that
Budhani made no incriminating statements prior to the
interrogation being taped. During the interrogation, Budhani
signed a waiver indicating that he had not been promised
anything in exchange for talking to the police. Officers
asked Budhani about how long he had been selling synthetic
marijuana, and he initially indicated that it had only been
two to three weeks. Officers pressed Budhani that he was not
being truthful, stating "You want to help yourself,
I'm giving you an opportunity to . . . " They
further told Budhani that even if he confessed to selling
drugs for a longer time, they would not charge Budhani with
additional crimes. Officers clearly advised Budhani that they
could not make him any promises, or give him a hint that he
would not be in trouble or would be in less trouble if he was
truthful, because that determination was up to the district
attorney. The officers did state that, if Budhani was
truthful with them, they would communicate that fact to the
district attorney. Ultimately, Budhani stated that he had
been selling drugs for no longer than two months.
moved to suppress the custodial statement on the grounds that
it was involuntary because he had been told by police that if
he cooperated he could benefit from a reduction of charges,
elimination of charges, or a reduced sentence. The trial
court denied the motion to suppress after finding that the
custodial statement was voluntary because it was given
without the hope of benefit.
a jury trial, Budhani was convicted of all four charges, and
he now appeals.
Budhani alleges that his indictment was void for failure to
allege a material element of the crimes. We disagree.
filed a general demurrer in this case, which the trial court
denied. "A general demurrer challenges the validity of
an indictment by asserting that the substance of the
indictment is legally insufficient to charge any crime."
(Citation and footnote omitted.) State v. Wilson,
318 Ga.App. 88, 91 (1) (732 S.E.2d 330) (2012). "[T]his
Court reviews a trial court's ruling on a general or
special demurrer de novo in order to determine whether the
allegations in the indictment are legally sufficient."
(Citation, punctuation, and footnote omitted.) Smith v.
State, 340 Ga.App. 457, 459 (797 S.E.2d 679) (2017).
[A]n indictment is void to the extent that it fails to allege
all the essential elements of the crime or crimes charged.
That principle is founded upon the constitutional guaranty of
due process. Due process of law requires that the indictment
on which a defendant is convicted contain all the essential
elements of the crime . . . Unless every essential element of
a crime is stated in an indictment, it is impossible to
ensure that the grand jury found probable cause to indict. An
indictment that alleges the accused violated a certain
statute, without more, would simply state a legal conclusion
regarding guilt, and not an allegation of facts from which
the grand jury determined probable cause of guilt was shown.
Likewise, it would not allege sufficient facts from which a
trial jury could determine guilt if those facts are shown at
trial. A valid indictment uses the language of the statute,
including the essential elements of the offense, and is
sufficiently definite to advise the accused of what he must
be prepared to confront. In sum, to withstand a general
demurrer, an indictment must: (1) recite the language of the
statute that sets out all the elements of the offense
charged, or (2) allege the facts necessary to establish
violation of a criminal statute. If either of these
requisites is met, then the accused cannot admit the
allegations of the indictment and yet be not guilty of the
and punctuation omitted.) Jackson v. State, 301 Ga.
137, 139-141 (1) (800 S.E.2d 356) (2017).
Here, Count 1 of the indictment charged Budhani with:
. . . SALE OF A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE for that the
said accused on the 18th day of October, 2014, said date
being material, in Newton County, Georgia, then and there:
did unlawfully sell. . . (XLR11), a Schedule I Controlled
Substanc (sic), in violation of OCGA § 16-13-30
(b) . . .
2 and 3 of the indictment are identical except that they
contain different dates of sale.
charged Budhani with:
. . . POSSESSION OF A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE WITH
INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE for that the said accused on the 12th
day of December, 2014, in Newton County, Georgia, then and
there: did unlawfully possess with intent to distribute. . .
(XLR11), a schedule I controlled substance, in violation of
OCGA § 16-13-30 (b), said act being separate and
distinct from any other Count of this Indictment. . .
contends that the indictment is void because it fails to
allege the inapplicability of certain exemptions. OCGA ...