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State v. Ramsey

Supreme Court of South Carolina

July 16, 2014

The State, Petitioner,
v.
James Ervin Ramsey, Respondent Appellate Case No. 2012-213017.

Heard March 18, 2014

Appeal from York County. The Honorable John C. Hayes, III, Circuit Court Judge.

Attorney General Alan M. Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Deputy Attorney General Robert D. Cook, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Assistant Attorney General Christina J. Catoe and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Curtis A. Pauling, III, all of Columbia, for Petitioner.

Christopher A. Wellborn, of Christopher A. Wellborn P.A., of Rock Hill, for Respondent.

JUSTICE HEARN. PLEICONES, BEATTY, JJ., and Acting Justice James E. Moore, concur. TOAL, C.J., concurring in result only.

Page 16

[409 S.C. 208] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

HEARN, JUSTICE:

The Court granted certiorari to review the court of appeals' opinion in State v. Ramsey, 398 S.C. 275, 727 S.E.2d 429 (Ct. App. 2012), affirming the dismissal of a criminal domestic violence (CDV) charge against James Ramsey on the ground that the magistrate lacked authority to hear the case. Specifically, the court found the crime was not committed " in the presence of a law enforcement officer" as required by Section 56-7-15(A) of the South Carolina Code (2006), amended by section 56-7-15 (A) (Supp. 2013). We affirm.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 18, 2006, Deputy Chris Farrell responded to a domestic call at the home of Ramsey's estranged wife (Wife). Farrell interviewed both parties and noticed a bruise on Wife's hand, which she indicated was the result of Ramsey attempting to grab a phone from her. Based on his observations, Deputy Farrell issued Ramsey a uniform traffic ticket for CDV.[1]

Ramsey moved to dismiss the charges for lack of jurisdiction. He argued that because the CDV was not committed in the presence of the officer, Deputy Farrell could not issue him a uniform traffic ticket under section 56-7-15(A), and absent a valid uniform traffic ticket, the magistrate lacked authority to hear the case. The magistrate agreed and dismissed the [409 S.C. 209] charges. The circuit court affirmed the dismissal on the alternative basis that only offenses listed under Section 56-7-10 of the South Carolina Code (2006), amended by 56-7-10 (Supp. 2013), allowed for prosecution solely based on a uniform traffic ticket and at the time the alleged crime was committed, CDV was not listed in section 56-7-10. Therefore, the circuit court concluded the magistrate did not have jurisdiction to hear the CDV charge until an arrest warrant was issued.

The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal. Although the court disagreed with the circuit court's conclusion that CDV could never be prosecuted in magistrate court absent an arrest warrant, it found that pursuant to section 56-7-15, an officer could only issue a uniform traffic ticket for CDV if the crime was committed in his presence. Ramsey, 398 S.C. at 280, 727 S.E.2d at 432. Because Deputy Farrell did not see the crime take place, but arrived on the scene after the fact, the court held the uniform traffic ticket was invalid and the charges were properly dismissed. Id. at 283, 727 S.E.2d at 433. This Court granted certiorari to review the court of appeals' opinion.

ISSUE PRESENTED

Did the court of appeals err in affirming the dismissal of Ramsey's CDV charge because the offense did not occur ...


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