Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Jairus J.V.

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

January 4, 2019

In the Interest of Jairus J. V., A Juvenile Under the Age of Seventeen, Appellant. Appellate No. 2016-001654

          Heard November 7, 2018

          Appeal From Lancaster County Coreen B. Khoury, Family Court Judge

          Appellate Defender LaNelle Cantey DuRant, of Columbia, for Appellant.

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General John Benjamin Aplin, and Assistant Attorney General Joshua Abraham Edwards, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Randy E. Newman, Jr., of Lancaster, all for Respondent.

          LOCKEMY C.J.

         In this appeal, Jairus J.V. (Appellant) argues the family court erred in adjudicating him delinquent for possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number when law enforcement was able to decipher the serial number on the handgun. We affirm.

         FACTS/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Appellant was charged with discharging a firearm into a dwelling, possession of a pistol by a person under the age of eighteen, possession of a stolen handgun, discharging a firearm within the city limits, and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number. The charges stemmed from two separate incidents during which Appellant accidentally fired a pistol while toying with it inside his bedroom. The second incident resulted in Appellant being admitted to the hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his hand. When law enforcement recovered the handgun, the serial number appeared illegible, having been marked with deep scratches and gouges; however, officers were eventually able to decipher the number and learn the gun had been stolen.

         Prior to trial, Appellant pled guilty to two counts of discharging a firearm within city limits and one count of possession of a handgun by a person under the age of eighteen. The family court held a bench trial on the charges of possession of a stolen handgun and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number. The facts were largely undisputed; the only issues were whether the serial number was "obliterated" within the meaning of section 16-23-30 of the South Carolina Code (2015) and whether Appellant knew or should have known the gun had been stolen.

         The State took the position that the clear meaning of "obliterated," as used in the statute, was to "attempt to get [the serial] number to be unreadable." In support of this argument, the State submitted into evidence two pictures of the handgun, which depicted the serial number as indecipherable due to deep scratches. Although the State acknowledged "[i]t took four law enforcement officers who look at guns everyday [a] significant period of time before one was finally able to decipher the serial number," it contended any reasonable person would have considered the serial number unreadable.

         Appellant argued the serial number had merely been scratched and therefore was not "obliterated." Furthermore, Appellant contended that because "obliterated" is an uncommon term and not defined by statute or case law, the family court must consider alternative definitions. Citing the Oxford English Dictionary, Appellant noted the term meant "to destroy utterly, to wipe out . . . annihilate, demolish, eliminate." Appellant asserted the serial number could be obliterated by means of a "grinder" to "grind it flat," but regardless, it must be "completely done away with" in order to be considered "obliterated."

         Following the trial, the family court found Appellant not guilty as to the charge of possession of a stolen handgun and guilty as to the charge of possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number. The court sentenced Appellant to a ninety-day sentence with probation for one year to follow. This appeal followed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "In criminal cases, the appellate court sits to review errors of law only." State v. Baccus, 367 S.C. 41, 48, 625 S.E.2d 216, 220 (2006). "[A]n appellate court is bound by the trial court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous." State v. Gordon, 414 S.C. 94, 98, 777 S.E.2d 376, 378 (2015). "A finding is clearly erroneous if it is not supported by the record." State v. Scott, 406 S.C. 108, 113, 749 S.E.2d 160, 163 (Ct. App. 2013) (quoting State v. Shuler, 344 S.C. 604, 620, 545 S.E.2d 805, 813 (2001). This court must affirm an adjudication ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.