State v. Sims, Appellate Case No. 2015-000721

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtHILL, J.
Citation814 S.E.2d 632
Parties The STATE, Respondent, v. Bobby Randolph SIMS, Appellant.
Decision Date18 April 2018
Docket NumberAppellate Case No. 2015-000721,Opinion No. 5553

423 S.C. 397
814 S.E.2d 632

The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Bobby Randolph SIMS, Appellant.

Appellate Case No. 2015-000721
Opinion No. 5553

Court of Appeals of South Carolina.

Heard November 8, 2017
Filed April 18, 2018


Appellate Defender David Alexander, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney General Mark Reynolds Farthing, both of Columbia, and Solicitor Randy E. Newman, Jr., of Lancaster, for Respondent.

HILL, J.:

Indicted for attempted murder, Bobby R. Sims claimed immunity from prosecution pursuant to the Protection of Persons and Property Act (Act), S.C. Code sections 16-11-410 to 450 (2015 and Supp. 2017). The trial court held an evidentiary hearing and denied Sims' immunity claim. Sims then pled guilty to the lesser-included offense of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (ABHAN). He now appeals, contending his assertion of immunity is a jurisdictional challenge a defendant may raise on appeal even after pleading guilty. Finding Sims' argument fits no exception to our steadfast rule against conditional guilty pleas, we affirm.

I.

Few principles of South Carolina criminal law are as ingrained as the notion that a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent guilty plea "constitutes a waiver of nonjurisdictional defects and claims of violations of constitutional rights." State v. Rice , 401 S.C. 330, 331–32, 737 S.E.2d 485, 485 (2013). Conditional pleas are not only ignored, but condemned. State v. Truesdale , 278 S.C. 368, 370, 296 S.E.2d 528, 529 (1982) (conditional plea "is a practice not recognized in South Carolina and a practice which we expressly disapprove"). A trial court is obligated to reject a defendant's attempt to hedge his bets by offering a conditional plea, State v. Inman , 395 S.C. 539, 555, 720 S.E.2d 31, 40 (2011), and if it does not, the conditional plea will be vacated on appeal.

While a valid guilty plea waives "nonjurisdictional" defects and defenses, it is unclear what amounts to a jurisdictional defect to a criminal prosecution. Sims does not contest personal jurisdiction. Nor does he argue the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over his ABHAN prosecution in the sense State v. Gentry , 363 S.C. 93, 100, 610 S.E.2d 494, 498 (2005), defines it: the very power of the court to hear and determine the class of cases of which he was convicted.

Just because a court has subject matter jurisdiction over the class of cases a defendant is convicted of does not end our inquiry into whether a jurisdictional defect sufficient to survive a guilty plea exists. The jurisdictional power of the court of general sessions to adjudicate criminal cases is not unlimited. It does not include, for instance, the power to convict someone of a statute no longer in effect, In re Terrence M. , 317 S.C. 212, 214, 452 S.E.2d 626, 627 (Ct. App. 1994), or of a nonexistent offense. Whitner v. State , 328 S.C. 1, 5, 492 S.E.2d 777, 779 (1997).

Sims ties the jurisdictional defect to the State's lack of power to prosecute him at all. According to Sims, because immunity bars prosecution, it necessarily bars the court's power of jurisdiction over him, and the legitimacy of that power cannot be waived or...

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1 practice notes
  • State v. Green, 5907
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 4, 2022
    ...'constitutes a waiver of nonjurisdictional defects and claims of violations of constitutional rights.'" State v. Sims, 423 S.C. 397, 400, 814 S.E.2d 632, 633 (Ct. App. 2018) (quoting State v. Rice, 401 S.C. 330, 331-32, 737 S.E.2d 485, 485 (2013)); see Gibson v. State, 334 S.C. 515, 523, 51......
1 cases
  • State v. Green, 5907
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 4, 2022
    ...'constitutes a waiver of nonjurisdictional defects and claims of violations of constitutional rights.'" State v. Sims, 423 S.C. 397, 400, 814 S.E.2d 632, 633 (Ct. App. 2018) (quoting State v. Rice, 401 S.C. 330, 331-32, 737 S.E.2d 485, 485 (2013)); see Gibson v. State, 334 S.C. 515, 523, 51......

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