THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE. IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.
THE STATE OF
In The Court of Appeals
The State, Respondent,
Stephen Tyrone Simmons, Appellant.
Lee S. Alford, Circuit Court Judge
Unpublished Opinion No. 2006-UP-030
Submitted January 1, 2006 – Filed January 12, 2006
Acting Chief Attorney Joseph L. Savitz III, of
Columbia, for Appellant.
Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Assistant Attorney General Deborah R.J. Shupe, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Thomas E. Pope, of York, for Respondent.
PER CURIAM: In this appeal of a guilty plea, Stephen Tyrone Simmons argues the trial court erred in accepting his guilty plea because it was made conditional on his ability to appeal the denial of pre-trial motions. We affirm.
On April 27, 2002,
In July 2002, the York County Grand Jury indicted Simmons on one count of trafficking between 100 and 200 grams of cocaine. The case was called for a jury trial on November 6, 2002. Simmons proceeded pro se. Prior to trial, Simmons submitted a Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) document to the trial court, moved to dismiss the claims against him based on this document, and moved to file a commercial lien against everyone involved in the prosecution. The trial court denied the motion stating that it was unrelated to the criminal case at hand. Simmons then moved to renounce his
The trial court impressed upon Simmons the importance of having representation, and Simmons decided that it was in his best interest to move forward with an attorney. After a brief recess, Simmons’s counsel informed the trial court that Simmons wanted to plead guilty pursuant to an agreement with the State to allow a plea to the lesser charge of trafficking between 28 and 100 grams of cocaine, second offense, with a negotiated sentence of sixteen years. In accordance with the plea agreement and negotiated sentence, Simmons was sentenced to sixteen years. This appeal followed.
Simmons argues the trial court erred in accepting his guilty plea because it was made conditional on his ability to appeal the denial of his pre-trial motions concerning the UCC claim and the request to renounce his citizenship. We disagree.
Rule 201, SCARC, provides an appeal “may be taken, as provided by law, from any final judgment or appealable order.” However, it is error for defendants to preserve certain issues while entering pleas of guilty, and if a defendant does so, the plea is conditional and invalid.
In O’Leary, the trial court accepted the defendant’s plea of guilty to the offense of driving under suspension (“DUS”), conditioned, however, upon the defendant’s right to appeal his constitutional challenges of the DUS statute.
[g]uilty pleas are unconditional and, if an accused attempts to attach any condition, the trial court must direct a plea of not guilty. . . . It is, thus, impermissible for a defendant to preserve constitutional issues while entertaining a guilty plea; the trial court may not accept the plea on such terms.
Additionally, in the case of State v. Truesdale, 278 S.C. 368, 296 S.E.2d 528 (1982), the trial court reversed the defendant’s conviction, following his conditional guilty plea. In pre-trial motions, Truesdale sought a change of venue, a limitation on the use of peremptory challenges by the solicitor, and certain restrictions upon the disqualification of jurors for cause.
However, to the extent that the denial of any of these three motions did, as we maintain, deny this young man a jury that was constitutionally selected, it would be my judgment and I think the record should reflect our position, that the plea is in fact the product of what we assert to be the deprivation of his constitutional rights.
Courts have often upheld pleas that preserved certain issues not connected with the guilt. In the case of State v. Downs, 361 S.C. 141, 604 S.E.2d 377 (2004), Downs reserved the right to present evidence that he committed the crime while he was mentally ill and moved forward with the guilty plea. This court held that guilty but mentally ill (GBMI) is still guilty.
Both the Easter and
Simmons did not attach a condition to his guilty plea. Simmons did not condition his plea on the outcome of an appeal of his pre-trial motions. Simmons merely sought to preserve his right to appeal motions that did not concern his guilt. Therefore, the trial court did not err in accepting Simmons’s guilty plea because it was not an invalid conditional plea.
GOOLSBY, ANDERSON, and SHORT, JJ., concur.
 We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.