SC Law Blog

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Self Defense, Defense of Others

Imagine your beloved mother is being threatened with deadly force. Your adrenaline is rushing and you’re trying desperately not to let the fear overcome you. One thing you can rest assured about is the fact that you can use force to combat the force that is being threatened against your mother. South Carolina law has concluded that you have the right to protect your relatives. Specifically, according to South Carolina law, if you come to the assistance of a friend or relative and take part in a difficulty in which your friend or relative is engaged, you enter the combat on the same footing of the person to whose assistance you come and under the same legal status. Essentially, this means that you have the right to defend your friend or relative and use force equal to the force being threatened against them as if the force was being used against you directly.

Under the legal theory of defense of others, one is not guilty of taking the life of an assailant who assaults a friend, relative, or bystander if that friend, relative or bystander would likewise have had the right to take the life of the assailant in self defense. However, in order for this defense to be available, there must be some evidence that the defendant was indeed lawfully defending others. If you reasonably fear that if you do not act, serious bodily harm will result, then you are lawfully permitted to use force.  

Imagine instead that you are unlocking your car when you hear a clicking sound. You turn around and discover an unfamiliar man with a gun pointed right at you. Do you fight or take flight? South Carolina law would permit you to fight in this situation. A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in a place where he has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or another person or to prevent the commission of a violent crime.

Although you cannot use force to defend your property solely, if someone attempts to force themselves into your home and refuses to leave, then you are permitted to use force. The law permits the owner to use as much force as necessary to prevent the obtrusion or to accomplish the expulsion of the trespasser from your home.

You may find yourself in the one of the above-mentioned dangerous situations one day. Just remember that if the circumstances permit, meaning you fear for your life, you are allowed to use force. Unfortunately, many people are charged for crimes that they were justified in committing. If you think self-defense, or defense of others may apply to your situation then contact Daniel Selwa today. 

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