Understanding South Carolina’s Stand Your Ground Law in Homicide Cases

Everyone should feel safe in their home. And if an intruder threatens your safety at home, you have the right to defend yourself. But what if, in doing so, the intruder dies? This is where the stand your ground law may protect you from a homicide charge. However, you will need to consult with an experienced Greenville criminal defense lawyer.

In this article, we will discuss the facts related to this South Carolina law and how it applies to cases when a homeowner acts in self-defense causing an intruder to lose their life.

What Does the Stand Your Ground Law Stipulate?

Codified in S.C. 16-11-410 under the name “Protection of Persons and Property Act”, the law follows the principle of the Castle Doctrine. This common law principle states that every person should expect to be unmolested and safe within their home. The South Carolina legislators extended the term of home to include vehicles and places of business.

Under the stand your ground law, no person should be forced to retreat when faced with an invasion or an attack at home.

How the Castle Doctrine Changes the Principle of Self-Defense

Self-defense is often invoked in homicide cases. This is a valid defense, because anyone has the right to protect their lives and to protect another person from an attack which is likely to result in grievous harm or death.

However, the person invoking self-defense must be able to prove the four standards established in the State vs. Davis case tried before the Supreme Court of South Carolina:

  • you did not instigate the attack and then claimed you acted in self defense
  • you were or believed that you were in imminent danger of losing your life or suffering very severe injuries
  • any other prudent and reasonable person would have believed that they were in imminent danger in the same situation
  • you had no other probable means of avoiding the danger by retreating from the attack.

The Protection of Persons and Property Act removes the fourth standard if you are attacked at home. There is no need of proving that you tried to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker.

everyone has the right to protect themselves and their home

How to Invoke the Stand Your Ground Law in Your Defense

If you are accused of homicide after an attacker dies while trying to get into your home, you must consult with an experienced Greenville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.You cannot simply invoke the stand your ground law and expect the prosecutor to drop the charges against you. When you do this, the state has the burden of proof to show that you did not act in self-defense. And you can be sure that they will put together every bit of physical evidence and expert testimony.

Your lawyer will also look for the evidence that will strengthen your case and prove your claim. Such evidence may include:

  • CCTV camera footage – many U.S. homes have surveillance systems, which are affordable and offer an increased level of protection by recording any attempted burglary or other crimes
  • Eyewitness testimonies – although the prosecution will present close family members as biased witnesses, their testimony will be accepted by court
  • Expert witness testimony indicating that a reasonable person may have considered the intrusion as an act of threat to one’s personal safety
  • Medical examiner’s post-mortem report, which may indicate that the action which provoked the attacker’s death was not dealt with intention to kill

Schedule an Appointment with an Experienced Greenville Criminal Defense Lawyer!

The stand your ground law in South Carolina offers protection from homicide charges when you act in self defense at home. However, you will have to bring evidence that proves it beyond a reasonable doubt, because the prosecutor will also present many pieces of evidence against you.

The best decision is to consult with an experienced Greenville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after being charged. This way, the attorney can prepare your defense and present a solid case in court.

As a new client, you benefit from a free case evaluation, so call us today at 864-777-4615!

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