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City of North Charleston v. Harper

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Harper appeals his jail sentence on the grounds the city ordinance is void.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A city ordinance, that is inconsistent or in conflict with state law, is void.

    Facts.

    Harper was arrested and convicted for possession of marijuana. Harper appeals his sentence, a mandatory thirty-day sentence under City Code § 13-3, offended Article VIII, § 14 of the South Carolina Constitution.

    Issue.

    Whether a city ordinance that conflict with the state law is null and void.

    Held.

    Yes, when a city ordinance conflicts or is inconsistent with the state law is null and void.

    Discussion.

    Under the South Carolina Constitution, a person who knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlled substance shall be served for a term not exceeding thirty days in jail or be fined not less than one hundred dollars. However, under the City Code § 13-3, a person who knowingly possesses marijuana shall serve a period of thirty days in jail, and does not give the judge the discretion of imposing a fine. The City contends that they State creates the outer limits of the sentencing guidelines, and the City may restrict the guidelines further. The court disagrees with the City. Instead, the State creates the guidelines, and any confliction with a city ordinance shall be null and void.



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