October 21, 2015.
From Berkeley County. R. Markley Dennis, Jr., Circuit Court
Judge. Appellate Case No. 2014-001984.
S. Vann, of Columbia, for Petitioner.
General Alan McCrory Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General
John W. McIntosh, and Assistant Attorney General Marcie E.
Greene, all of Columbia, for Respondent.
JUSTICE TOAL. BEATTY, KITTREDGE, and HEARN, JJ., concur.
PLEICONES, C.J., concurring in result only.
WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
Thompson appeals the court of appeals' decision in
Thompson v. State, 409 S.C. 386, 762 S.E.2d 51
(Ct.App. 2014), affirming the circuit court's refusal to
grant Thompson's request for declaratory judgments
finding that: (1) his kidnapping offenses did not involve a
sexual element; and (2) Thompson would not need to register
as a sex offender upon his release from prison in 2020. We
reverse in part, and affirm in part.
1998 to 2000, an armed perpetrator committed six robberies of
hotels in Lexington, Richland, Berkeley, and Charleston
counties. During each of these robberies, the perpetrator
entered the hotel, held the clerk at gunpoint, restrained the
clerk with either duct tape or rope, and stole money out of
the hotel safe and till. After an investigation, the police
arrested Thompson for these robberies, and a grand jury
indicted Thompson on multiple counts of armed robbery and
2001, Thompson pled guilty to six counts of armed robbery and
four counts of kidnapping. At the time of the plea, the
circuit court failed to make a finding that the four
kidnapping offenses were not sexual in nature. See
S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-430(C)(15) (2007 & Supp. 2014)
(stating that anyone convicted of kidnapping is considered a
sex offender " except when the court makes a finding on
the record that the offense did not include a criminal sexual
offense or an attempted criminal sexual offense" ).
2009, after discovering that the South Carolina Department of
Corrections (SCDC) classified him as a sex offender due to
his kidnapping convictions, Thompson filed a petition for a
declaratory judgment, requesting the court find that the
kidnapping offenses were not sexual in nature, and did not
require him to register as a sex offender pursuant to section
23-3-430(C)(15). The State moved the court to dismiss
Thompson's action under Rules 12(b)(1) and (6), SCRCP,
arguing that Thompson's petition was not yet ripe because
sex offender registration requirements are determined solely
by the law in effect at the time of an inmate's release
from prison, and Thompson would not be released until 2020.
circuit court granted the State's motion, finding that
the action was not ripe. The court further found that
Thompson was required to pursue administrative review within
the SCDC in order to change his internal classification
there. See Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C.
354, 527 S.E.2d 742 (2000). The circuit court did not address
Thompson's request that the court make a finding on the
record that his kidnapping convictions were not sexual in
split decision, the court of appeals affirmed.
Thompson, 409 S.C. 386, 762 S.E.2d 51. Chief Judge
Few, writing for the majority, found that " the circuit
court properly determined no justiciable controversy existed
and dismissed the action because the question of whether
Thompson should be required to register ...