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2007-UP-526 - State v. Thompson

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 SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

The State, Respondent,

v.

Manley M. Thompson, Appellant.


Appeal From Lancaster County
 John C. Hayes, III, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2007-UP-526
Submitted November 1, 2007 – Filed November 13, 2007


AFFIRMED


Hemphill P. Pride, II, 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 Julie M. Thames,  of Columbia, John R. Justice, of Chester, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  In this criminal case, we affirm the trial court’s determination that Manley Thompson (Thompson) knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel. 

FACTS

Lancaster County police officers observed Thompson riding a dirt bike and stopped him because the dirt bike was not street legal.  The officers asked Thompson for his identification.  Thompson refused and became abusive.  The officers informed Thompson he was under arrest for vehicle violation and disorderly conduct. 

While attempting to handcuff Thompson, Thompson head butted one of the officers.  The injured officer sustained a black eye and a bloody lip.  The search incident to the arrest revealed a large quantity of marijuana along with scales on Thompson’s person.  The officers also learned the dirt bike was stolen. 

Thompson was indicted for receiving stolen goods over $1,000 but less than $5,000, resisting arrest, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.  Thompson entered guilty pleas to all three charges and received five years imprisonment, to run concurrently. 

On appeal, Thompson argues he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his right to counsel.  Thompson also contends his guilty plea was not freely, intelligently, and voluntarily given.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In criminal cases, this Court reviews errors of law only.  State v. Wilson, 345 S.C. 1, 5-6, 545 S.E.2d 827, 829 (2001).  An appellate court is bound by the trial judge’s factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous.  Id.

LAW/ANALYSIS

Thompson initially argues he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his right to counsel.  It is well established that a criminal defendant may waive his constitutional right to counsel and proceed pro se.  Dearybury v. State, 367 S.C. 34, 39, 625 S.E.2d 212, 215 (2006).   Even if a “defendant’s decision to proceed pro se may be to the defendant’s own detriment, it must be honored . . . .”  Id.  However, to establish a valid wavier of counsel, the accused must be informed of the right to counsel and adequately warned of the dangers of self-representation.  Prince v. State, 301 S.C. 422, 423-24, 392 S.E.2d 462, 463 (1990).

The following testimony confirms the trial judge advised Thompson of his right to counsel and warned him of the dangers of self-representation.

The Court: You understand that you have a right to an attorney to represent you in regards to these three charges.

The Defendant: Yes, sir.

The Court: You understand if you cannot afford an attorney the State would be required to appoint an attorney to represent you at no cost to you.

The Defendant: Yes, sir.

The Court: You understand that an attorney could be of benefit to you by knowing things about the case or about you or about the law that could benefit you.  You understand that.

The Defendant: Yes, sir.

The Court: You understand that since you’re not an attorney there is a danger in your representing yourself.

The Defendant: Yes, sir.

The Court: Knowing those things do you wish to have an attorney or proceed without one?

The Defendant: Wish to proceed without one.

The Court: I find Mr. Thompson has freely, voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently, understanding his right to counsel, benefits of counsel and the danger of self-representation waiving his right to counsel. 

The foregoing demonstrates the trial judge informed Thompson of his constitutional right to counsel and advised Thompson of the dangers of self-representation.

Next, Thompson argues his guilty plea was not freely, intelligently, and voluntarily given.  However, Thompson failed to raise the issue regarding the guilty plea at the trial court level.  The proper venue in such a case is for Thompson to file for post conviction relief.  In Interest of Antonio H., 324 S.C. 120, 122, 477 S.E.2d 713, 714 (1996) (“The proper avenue in which to challenge a guilty plea which is not objected to at the time of its entry is through post conviction relief.”).

CONCLUSION

Accordingly, the trial court’s decision is

AFFIRMED.[1]

ANDERSON, and WILLIAMS, JJ., A.J. Cureton concur.


[1] We decide this case without oral arguments pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.