Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
2010-UP-078 - The State v. Roger Smith

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE. IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

The State, Respondent,

v.

Roger Dejon Smith, Appellant.


Appeal From Richland County
Carmen T. Mullen, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2010-UP-078
Submitted February 1, 2010 – Filed February 2, 2010   


AFFIRMED


Appellate Defender Kathrine H. Hudgins, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, and Solicitor Warren B. Giese, all of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Roger Dejon Smith appeals his conviction for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (ABHAN).  Smith argues the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over his guilty plea because it did not discuss his waiver of presentment during the guilty plea and failed to obtain a valid waiver of presentment on the record.  We affirm.[1]          

Article V, section 11 of the South Carolina Constitution grants circuit courts with original jurisdiction over all criminal cases: 

The Circuit Court shall be a general trial court with original jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases, except those cases in which exclusive jurisdiction shall be given to inferior courts, and shall have such appellate jurisdiction as provided by law. 

See also State v. Gentry, 363 S.C. 93, 101, 610 S.E.2d 494, 499 (2005) ("Circuit courts obviously have subject matter jurisdiction to try criminal matters."). 

Article I, section 11 of the South Carolina Constitution recognizes a defendant's right to be notified of any criminal charges made against him:

No person may be held to answer for any crime the jurisdiction over which is not within the magistrate's court, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury of the county where the crime has been committed . . . . The General Assembly may provide for the waiver of an indictment by the accused.

The South Carolina Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized the presentment of an indictment and the trial court's subject matter jurisdiction in criminal cases are two distinct issues that are not dependent on each other.  See Gentry, 363 S.C. at 101-02 n.6, 610 S.E.2d at 499 n.6 ("We note that a presentment of an indictment or a waiver of presentment is not needed to confer subject matter jurisdiction on the circuit court. However, an indictment is needed to give notice to the defendant of the charge(s) against him."); Evans v. State, 363 S.C. 495, 509, 611 S.E.2d 510, 518 (2005) (citations omitted) ("A defendant has a constitutional right to demand that a grand jury which is properly established and constituted under the law consider the criminal allegations against him . . . . [However,] such a challenge does not implicate the subject matter jurisdiction of the circuit court."); State v. Smalls, 364 S.C. 343, 346, 613 S.E.2d 754, 756 (2005) ("Although an indictment does not confer subject matter jurisdiction, due process requires that a criminal defendant be properly served with a valid indictment.").   

Based on the case law cited above, we find that the trial court's failure to discuss Smith's waiver of presentment during his guilty plea did not invalidate the trial court's subject matter jurisdiction over his guilty plea.  Because circuit courts have original jurisdiction over all criminal matters, and Smith was charged with ABHAN by the State, the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over Smith's guilty plea. 

AFFIRMED.

HUFF, A.C.J., THOMAS, and KONDUROS, JJ., concur.


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