State v. Rice

In this case the Supreme Court considers whether a defendant can appeal from a contested waiver hearing after a guilty plea in general sessions. Rice, a fifteen-year-old was charged several violent crimes. There was a contested waiver from family court to general sessions court, which Rice lost. After the court sent Rice to general sessions for prosecution, he pled guilty to three counts of armed robbery and one count of assault with intent to kill and received a sentence of eleven years in prison. In pleading guilty, Rice raised no objection to the family court waiver. On appeal, Rice sought to resurrect his family court constitutional challenge to the waiver as violative of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000).

The Supreme Court holds that Rice waived his right to challenge the family court waiver, because all guilty pleas in South Carolina are unconditional (that is, they generally constitute a waiver of “nonjurisdictional defects”). The Court adds that even if the transfer to general sessions was invalid, it does not give rise to any jurisdictional error.

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