Tagged: Jury Instructions

It Should Be Hard for the Prosecution to Convict Someone of Attempted Murder

In State v. King, our Supreme Court rejected prosecutors’ contention that attempted murder is a general intent, rather than a specific intent crime.  This holding, predictably, resulted from our Court’s review of its precedent and the legislative history of the Sentencing Reform Act of 2010. Prosecutors attempted to equate attempted murder to the common law offense […]

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Failure to Instruct Jurors about Involuntary Manslaughter Requires New Trial

On April 23, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals decided State v. Battle and ordered a new trial for a man convicted of murder because the trial judge did not instruct the jurors about involuntary manslaughter. Battle testified that the decedent pointed a handgun at him.  Battle grabbed the gun, and a struggle ensued.  […]

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Who Decides Whether the Jurors Consider the Lesser-Included Offenses: Trial Judge or Defendant?

On March 19, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals decided Abney v. State, holding trial counsel employed a legitimate trial strategy by not requesting the trial court judge instruct the jurors about the lesser-included offense.  The all-or-nothing approach failed, and the jurors convicted Abney of armed robbery without ever having the opportunity to consider […]

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Recommending New Self-Defense Jury Instructions in South Carolina

Previous blog posts have reviewed the “History of South Carolina’s Self-Defense Jury Instruction” and explained why “South Carolina’s Self-Defense Jury Instruction is Obsolete and Inadequate.”  This post recommends new jury instructions to replace the outdated ones. The following instruction is recommended in homicide cases: A person is justified in using force which is intended or […]

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Self-Defense: Directed Verdict Standard vs. Prosecution’s Burden of Proof

On March 12, 2014, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided State v. Butler, which presented the issue of “whether the trial court erred in refusing to apply a standard requiring the state to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt at the directed verdict stage.”  Our Court denied relief, affirmed the conviction, and explained the difference […]

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South Carolina’s Self-Defense Jury Instruction is Obsolete and Inadequate

As discussed in a recent blog post entitled, “History of South Carolina’s Self-Defense Jury Instruction,” the following jury instruction is required in self-defense cases: Self-defense is a complete defense. If established, you must find the defendant not guilty. There are four elements required by law to establish self-defense in this case. First, the defendant must […]

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History of South Carolina’s Self-Defense Jury Instruction

Formally in South Carolina, self-defense was an affirmative defense an accused was required to prove by preponderance of the evidence.  E.g. State v. Finley, 277 S.C. 548, 290 S.E.2d 808 (1982) and State v. Bolton, 266 S.C. 444, 223 S.E.2d 863 (1976). Applying this burden of proof, in State v. Hendrix, 270 S.C. 653, 657-58, […]

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Attempted Murder & First-Degree Assault and Battery: Does the Result Intended Matter?

On February 26, 2014, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided State v. Middleton, holding that first-degree assault and battery is a lesser-included offense of attempted murder, even if the victim does not sustain any injuries.  The Court pointed out that the statutory offense applies not only to “injuries,” but also to “offers or attempts to […]

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Involuntary Manslaughter: Can an Intentional Act be an Unintentional Homicide?

On January 29, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals decided Sullivan v. State, holding, “Because there was no evidence Sullivan fired a gun unintentionally, he was not entitled to a jury charge on involuntary manslaughter.”  Sullivan, in a post-conviction relief (PCR) action, alleged his trial counsel was ineffective for not requesting a full and […]

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Supreme Court Watch: 2013 Year in Review

2013 was a major year in criminal law for the South Carolina Supreme Court. Interviews in Child Sexual Abuse Cases – In January 2013, our Supreme Court decided State v. Kromah, hopefully putting to rest prosecution attempts to improperly bolster child witnesses in criminal sexual conduct cases.  Kromah is the most recent of numerous cases […]

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