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10 days within 10 days within 10 days within...

Post-trial motions are usually pretty straight forward: a party has 10 days from imposition of the sentence to file any post-trial motions. See SCRCP 29 (a). However, this can become tricky if multiple Rule 29 motions are filed.

Fortunately, we have a recent South Carolina Supreme Court case that gives us some guidance. In State v. Pfeiffer, the defendant pled guilty on September 18. There was a clerical error in the sentencing sheet, so Pfeiffer timely filed a post-trial motion. The hearing for this motion was heard on October 8. At this motion, the court corrected the sentencing sheet; but additionally, Pfeiffer’s codefendant pled and received a lesser sentence than he did. So, Pfeiffer filed a subsequent Rule 29 motion to amend his sentence on October 17.

Justice Kittredge held that this second Rule 29 motion was untimely. Because the second motion was about the codefendant’s plea (which occurred October 8) and not related to the original plea (sentence imposed) on September 18, then the second Rule 29 was well over the 10-day requirement.

It appears the rule for Rule 29 post-trial motion is this:

A defendant may file a subsequent Rule 29 motion if it is related to the first Rule 29 motion AND it is filed within 10 days of that first motion.

If the second Rule 29 motion is not related to the first motion, then it must be filed within 10 days of the original sentence imposition. (This might be a stretch, but the opinion doesn't seem to specifically prohibit this)


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