State v. Sweat

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Citation279 S.E.2d 375,276 S.C. 448
Decision Date16 June 1981
Docket NumberNo. 21491,21491
PartiesThe STATE, Appellant, v. Richard F. SWEAT, Sr., Granville S. Way, Jr., Respondents.

Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod, Asst. Atty. Gen. Buford S. Mabry, Jr., and State Atty., Scott Elliott, Columbia, for appellant.

Thomas O. Berry, Jr., and Gene W. Dukes, St. George, for respondents.

GREGORY, Justice:

The state appeals an order quashing the indictment for criminal conspiracy returned against respondents Richard F. Sweat, Sr., and Granville S. Way, Jr. We reverse.

The crime of conspiracy is a statutory offense in this state, defined in Section 16-17-410, Code of Laws of South Carolina (1976) as "a combination between two or more persons for the purpose of accomplishing a criminal or unlawful object or an object neither criminal nor unlawful by criminal or unlawful means."

Through its enactment of Section 16-17-410, the legislature codified the criminal offense known to the common law as conspiracy, subjecting the accused to a possible maximum of five (5) years imprisonment or five thousand dollars ($5000.00) fine, unless the conspiracy is to commit a crime which, as a substantive offense, carries a lesser penalty. State v. Bendoly, 273 S.C. 47, 50, 254 S.E.2d 287 (1979).

The indictment in this case charged respondents as follows:

"That Granville S. Way, Jr., Richard F. Sweat, Sr., and Wilbur M. Sweat, late of the County and State aforesaid beginning on a date or dates unknown at this time to the Grand Jury but including the 15th day of July 1973, through the 31st day of December, 1978, and ending on a date or dates unknown at this time to the Grand Jury, did in the County of Dorchester, South Carolina, unlawfully, knowingly, willfully, fraudulently and corruptly did conspire, combine, confederate and agree and have tacit understanding with each other and with divers other persons by diverse false pretenses and indirect means to cheat and defraud the County of Dorchester, a political subdivision of the State of South Carolina, of certain property and services to wit: the use of personnel, equipment, goods and chattels of the Dorchester County Road Department, and the use of inmate labor; all this being at Westoe Plantation in Dorchester County, South Carolina for the benefit of private parties and entities, to the evil example of all other in like case offending."

We think the language of the indictment clearly charges respondents with conspiring to defraud the government, a common law offense recognized in State v. Cardoza, 11 S.C. 195, 230 (1878), and therefore subsumed under the statute. Accordingly, the trial judge erred in quashing the indictment on the ground no substantial offense was stated. In Cardoza, the court specifically held: "A conspiracy to injure or defraud the public is indictable as such, independent of the special character of the means employed for that purpose." Id., at 229.

As a further ground for quashing the indictment the court below found it vague and overbroad. We disagree.

An indictment is sufficient which, in addition to allegations of time and place, charges the crime substantially in the language of the common law or statutory offense so plainly that the charge may be understood. Section 17-19-20, Code of Laws of South Carolina (1976).

Our Court has recently set forth the test we employ in adjudging the sufficiency of an indictment. It is adequate if the offense is stated with sufficient certainty and particularity to enable the court to know what judgment...

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 cases
  • State v. Gunn, 23931
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 11 Marzo 1993
    ...shows, however, that those indictments contained more specific allegations than the general indictment here. See, e.g., State v. Sweat, 276 S.C. 448, 279 S.E.2d 375 (1981); State v. Fleming, 243 S.C. 265, 133 S.E.2d 800 (1963); State v. McIntire, supra; and State v. Hightower, 221 S.C. 91, ......
  • State v. Wade, 23491
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 18 Octubre 1989
    ...hour, according to the dissent) of the alleged offense. State v. Shoemaker, 276 S.C. 86, 275 S.E.2d 878 (1981). See also State v. Sweat, 276 S.C. 448, 279 S.E.2d 375 (1981). We have also addressed the sufficiency of an indictment when alibi is raised as a defense, as here. In such a situati......
  • State v. Adams, 21581
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 6 Octubre 1981
    ...266 S.E.2d 61 (1980); State v. Hiott, S.C., 276 S.E.2d 163 (1981); State v. Shoemaker, S.C., 275 S.E.2d 878 (1981); State v. Sweat, S.C., 279 S.E.2d 375 (1981). In State v. Crenshaw, supra, we held "An indictment is adequate if the offense is stated with sufficient certainty and particulari......
  • United States v. Goodwin, Criminal No.: 3:17-cr-01143-JMC-1
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 14 Diciembre 2018
    ...of "manufacturing." The code, however, does not equate "harvesting" with "cultivating."562 S.E.2d 313, 314 n.2 (2002). See also Austin, 279 S.E.2d at 375 ("Appellant questions the clarity and sufficiency of Section 44-53-370 in specifying the crime of 'manufacture.' Basically, South Carolin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT