Tagged: Manslaughter

Juvenile Life without Parole Sentences Unconstitutional

On November 12, 2014, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided Aiken et. al. v. Byars, holding life without parole sentences for crimes committed by juveniles are unconstitutional, unless the sentencing court convened a sentencing hearing and considered all mitigating circumstances, as mandated by the Supreme Court of the United States in Miller v. Alabama.  Charles Grose […]

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State Procedures for Determining Intellectual Disabilities in Death Penalty Cases Must Follow Established Medical Practice

In 2002, the Supreme Court of the United States decided Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, (2002), holding it violates the Eighth Amendment to execute a person with intellectual disabilities, also know as mental retardation. Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States decided Hall v. Florida, Case No. 12-10882 (May 27, 2014), recognizing […]

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S.C. Court of Appeals Decision Erodes the “Protections of Persons and Property Act”

State v. Manning, decided on May 7, 2014 by the Court of Appeals, erodes the protections of our state’s “Protection of Persons and Property Act,” S.C. Code Ann. §16-11-410, et. seq., which is also known as the “Castle Doctrine.”  The Court of Appeals narrowly construed the statute only to protect a person when an intruder […]

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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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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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Enforcing Guilty Plea Agreements

On February 5, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals decided Smith v. State, holding that trial counsel was ineffective for not objecting when the prosecutor failed to honor the plea agreement. Smith, originally charged with murder, pleaded guilty to the lesser-included offense of voluntary manslaughter.  Under the plea agreement, the Solicitor was not supposed […]

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