State v. Johnston, 24874.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtTOAL, Justice
Citation333 S.C. 459,510 S.E.2d 423
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Karen L. JOHNSTON, Petitioner.
Docket NumberNo. 24874.,24874.
Decision Date04 January 1999

333 S.C. 459
510 S.E.2d 423

The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Karen L. JOHNSTON, Petitioner

No. 24874.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard November 5, 1998.

Decided January 4, 1999.


333 S.C. 460
Assistant Appellate Defender M. Anne Pearce, of South Carolina Office of Appellate Defense, of Columbia, for petitioner

Attorney General Charles Molony Condon; Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh; Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott; Assistant Attorney General Caroline Callison Tiffin, all of Columbia; and Solicitor W. Townes Jones, IV, of Greenwood, for respondent.

TOAL, Justice:

In this criminal case, we granted certiorari to review the Court of Appeals opinion in State v. Johnston, 327 S.C. 435, 489 S.E.2d 228 (Ct.App.1997). We reverse and remand.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Karen Johnston ("Defendant") was convicted of possession of marijuana and conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute. For the simple possession conviction, Defendant was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of $2,000. For the conspiracy conviction, Defendant was sentenced to ten years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Defendant raised no objections at trial to the sentence imposed by the trial court.

333 S.C. 461
On direct appeal, Defendant for the first time questioned the trial court's authority to impose a prison sentence of ten years for her conspiracy conviction. Defendant argued this issue could be raised for the first time on appeal because the trial court exceeded its subject matter jurisdiction by rendering a sentence exceeding the maximum allowed by law. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant's conviction pursuant to Rule 220(b), SCACR.1 The Court of Appeals subsequently granted Defendant's petition for rehearing and substituted its unpublished opinion with a published opinion. In State v. Johnston, 327 S.C. 435, 489 S.E.2d 228 (Ct.App.1997), the Court of Appeals again affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence. The court found that while the trial court's ten year sentence for Defendant's conspiracy conviction exceeded the maximum allowed by law, this issue was not preserved for direct appeal because an objection was not raised to the trial court. Furthermore, the issue did not involve a question of the trial court's subject matter jurisdiction and therefore could not be raised for the first time on appeal

This Court granted Defendant's petition for a writ of certiorari to consider the following issue:

Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that a challenge to an excessive sentence is not a matter of subject matter jurisdiction, but must be preserved for appellate review by motion or objection?

LAW/ANALYSIS

Defendant argues that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the trial court's imposition of an excessive sentence for Defendant's conspiracy conviction did not involve a question of subject matter jurisdiction. We disagree.

In this case, Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute. Pursuant to S.C.Code Ann. § 44-53-420 (1985), the maximum sentence for the conspiracy conviction is one-half the penalty for the substantive offense. The substantive offense, possession with intent to distribute, carries a maximum penalty of ten years for a second offense. S.C.Code Ann. § 44-53-370(b)(2) (Supp.

333 S.C. 462
1997). This offense was Defendant's second. Therefore, the maximum sentence that the court could impose for this offense is five years. The trial court sentenced Defendant to ten...

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  • State v. Passmore, 3950.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 22, 2005
    ...rights of incompetents has precedence over procedural rules otherwise limiting the scope of review."). Appellant cites State v. Johnston, 333 S.C. 459, 510 S.E.2d 423 (1999), as providing her an exception to the general rule of issue preservation. In Johnston, the defendant was sentenced to......
  • Frazer v. South Carolina, 04-6500.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • December 8, 2005
    ...indicate that presenting an issue to the trial court for its initial determination is all that is necessary. See, e.g., State v. Johnston, 333 S.C. 459, 510 S.E.2d 423, 425 (1999) (stating that if an "issue was not raised below and did not involve subject matter jurisdiction," the defendant......
  • State v. Higgenbottom, 3074.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • November 16, 1999
    ...his probationary sentence. To preserve a challenge to sentencing, an appellant must raise the issue to the trial court. State v. Johnston, 333 S.C. 459, 510 S.E.2d 423 (1999). Higgenbottom objected to his original sentence and received a higher sentence on resentencing. If Higgenbottom obje......
  • State v. Johnson, Appellate Case No. 2014-001219
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 30, 2018
    ...challenge to sentencing must be raised at trial, or the issue will not be preserved for appellate review.’ " (quoting State v. Johnston , 333 S.C. 459, 462, 510 S.E.2d 423, 425 (1999) ) ). While preservation concerns may be superseded by the interest of judicial economy under certain circum......
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