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How Far is Too Far: Is Your Use of Force Justified? | South Carolina

South Carolina law authorizes the use of deadly force under three circumstances.

#1 CASTLE DOCTRINE

First, South Carolina authorizes the use of deadly force under what is commonly called the “Castle Doctrine,” which essentially means that a person is the king or queen of his or her castle, and has the right to protect themselves, their homes, families, and property. It allows a person in his or her residence to protect themselves from intruders entering unlawfully, and the law presumes that the intruder is entering with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or a violent crime, such as rape or murder. It also recognizes the right to use deadly force in a stand your ground situation with no duty to retreat.

#2 STAND YOUR GROUND

A person has the right to stand their ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she believes it necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or another person, or to prevent the commission of a violent crime, such as armed robbery.

South Carolina allows one to meet non-deadly force with non-deadly force. However, deadly force may not be used in a situation where a reasonable person would not believe they were in danger of great bodily injury or death. It’s important to note these protections were extended under South Carolina law to anyone in his or her place of business and any occupied vehicle. The law of our state is such that no person should be required to surrender his or her personal safety to a criminal; nor should a person be required to needlessly retreat in the face of intrusion or attack.

#3 ARRESTING A FLEEING FELON

Finally, under the South Carolina Citizens Arrest Statute, there are circumstances under which a person may use deadly force in arresting a fleeing felon. South Carolina Code Annotated Section 17-13-20 states: “A citizen may arrest a person in the nighttime by efficient means as the darkness and probability of escape render necessary, even if the life of the person should be taken, when the person:

  • Has committed a felony;
  • Has entered a dwelling house without express or implied permission;
  • Has broken or is breaking into an outhouse with a view to plunder;
  • Has in his possession stolen property; or
  • Being under circumstances which raise just suspicion of his design to steal or to commit some felony, flees when he is hailed.”

If you have any questions regarding the justifiable use of force or deadly force, or any other firearm-related question, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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