State v. Phillips, No. 27190.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation400 S.C. 460,734 S.E.2d 650
PartiesThe STATE, Petitioner, v. Lawrence PHILLIPS, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2011–197426.
Docket NumberNo. 27190.
Decision Date21 November 2012

400 S.C. 460
734 S.E.2d 650

The STATE, Petitioner,
v.
Lawrence PHILLIPS, Respondent.

Appellate Case No. 2011–197426.

No. 27190.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Submitted Nov. 5, 2012.
Decided Nov. 21, 2012.



Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General

[734 S.E.2d 651]

John W. McIntosh, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Deborah R.J. Shupe, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Isaac McDuffie Stone, III, of Bluffton, for Petitioner.

Appellant Defender Breen Richard Stevens, of South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense, of Columbia, for Respondent.


PER CURIAM.

[400 S.C. 462]The State appeals the Court of Appeals' decision invalidating respondent's sentence of life without parole. We grant the petition for certiorari, dispense with further briefing, and affirm as modified.

FACTS

Respondent was convicted of second-degree arson and sentenced to life without parole (LWOP). The Court of Appeals affirmed the second-degree arson conviction, but reversed and remanded as to the LWOP sentence finding the use of a 1979 burning conviction was inappropriate for sentence enhancement purposes. State v. Phillips, 393 S.C. 407, 712 S.E.2d 457 (Ct.App.2011). The State now seeks review of the Court of Appeals' decision.

DISCUSSION

Upon conviction of a serious offense, a person must be sentenced to LWOP if the person has two or more prior convictions for a serious offense. S.C.Code Ann. § 17–25–45(B) (Supp.2008). When a prior conviction is for an offense not found in § 17–25–45, trial judges can look to the elements of the prior offense to determine if they are equivalent to the elements of an offense found in the statute for purposes of sentence enhancement. See State v. Lindsey, 355 S.C. 15, 583 S.E.2d 740 (2003); State v. Washington, 338 S.C. 392, 526 S.E.2d 709 (2000).

The cardinal rule of statutory construction is to ascertain and effectuate the legislative intent whenever possible.[400 S.C. 463]State v. Baucom, 340 S.C. 339, 342, 531 S.E.2d 922, 923 (2000). The Court should give words “their plain and ordinary meaning without resort to subtle or forced construction to limit or expand the statute's operation.” State v. Sweat, 386 S.C. 339, 350, 688 S.E.2d 569, 575 (2010).

The Court of Appeals found respondent's 1979 conviction for burning did not contain the same elements as the second-degree arson statute and thus did not qualify as a serious offense for LWOP purposes. The Court of...

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4 practice notes
  • Bowers v. McFadden, Civil Action No. 0:14-358-RMG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • December 21, 2015
    ...the issuance of the arrest warrant.The South Carolina Supreme Court also looked to the content of the indictment in State v. Phillips , 400 S.C. 460, 734 S.E.2d 650,652–53 (2012), to determine if a prior conviction for common law arson met the current statutory arson provisions that qualifi......
  • Simuel v. State, Appellate Case No. 2016-001607
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 7, 2020
    ...or carry away any other person by any means whatsoever without authority of law ... is guilty of a felony...."); State v. Phillips , 400 S.C. 460, 462, 734 S.E.2d 650, 651 (2012) ("When a prior conviction is for an offense not found in § 17-25-45, trial judges can look to the elements of th......
  • Terry v. Terry, No. 27196.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 21, 2012
    ...automatically stayed requirement that appellant vacate the marital home and execute a deed conveying the property to the respondent). [400 S.C. 460]As I read the family court's order of November 24, 2010, it is unclear whether respondent was awarded possession of the home as a component of ......
  • Bowers v. McFadden, Civil Action No. 0:14-cv-358-RMG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 11, 2015
    ...was not sufficient evidence to resolve the issue. Id. at 742. The Supreme Court addressed a somewhat similar issue in State v. Phillips, 734 S.E.2d 650, 651 (S.C. 2012), which involved the question of whether a defendant's 1979 conviction for common law "burning" was the equivalent to the o......
4 cases
  • Bowers v. McFadden, Civil Action No. 0:14-358-RMG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • December 21, 2015
    ...the issuance of the arrest warrant.The South Carolina Supreme Court also looked to the content of the indictment in State v. Phillips , 400 S.C. 460, 734 S.E.2d 650,652–53 (2012), to determine if a prior conviction for common law arson met the current statutory arson provisions that qualifi......
  • Simuel v. State, Appellate Case No. 2016-001607
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 7, 2020
    ...or carry away any other person by any means whatsoever without authority of law ... is guilty of a felony...."); State v. Phillips , 400 S.C. 460, 462, 734 S.E.2d 650, 651 (2012) ("When a prior conviction is for an offense not found in § 17-25-45, trial judges can look to the elements of th......
  • Terry v. Terry, No. 27196.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 21, 2012
    ...automatically stayed requirement that appellant vacate the marital home and execute a deed conveying the property to the respondent). [400 S.C. 460]As I read the family court's order of November 24, 2010, it is unclear whether respondent was awarded possession of the home as a component of ......
  • Bowers v. McFadden, Civil Action No. 0:14-cv-358-RMG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 11, 2015
    ...was not sufficient evidence to resolve the issue. Id. at 742. The Supreme Court addressed a somewhat similar issue in State v. Phillips, 734 S.E.2d 650, 651 (S.C. 2012), which involved the question of whether a defendant's 1979 conviction for common law "burning" was the equivalent to the o......

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