“Stand Your Ground” Laws are an important protection granted to people in a threatening situation that allow them to protect themselves and possibly even use deadly force if they are in a situation that is so threatening. These laws are unfortunately frequently misinterpreted by non-lawyers and it is important to distinguish them. “Stand Your Ground,” and “castle doctrine” are both terms used to mean something similar. “Stand Your Ground” refers to states that do not require a person to retreat before resorting to deadly force and may extend beyond the home. “Castle doctrine” states impose no duty to retreat before using deadly force if you are in your home or yard. The duty to retreat is the key difference. “Duty to retreat” refers to a requirement to retreat from the threatening situation if you can do so with complete safety.
South Carolina is considered a “Stand Your Ground” state, meaning it is not required that people remove themselves from the situation before they are attacked. South Carolina lays the foundation for such a doctrine in Code 1976 § 16-11-440. For use of deadly force to be considered lawful, the person using such force must “have a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to [themselves] or others”. The person for whom deadly force is used upon must be unlawfully or forcefully entering one’s home or occupied vehicle. ‘Deadly force’ can be several things, such as using a gun. The person using force must know or reasonably believe that such an illegal entry has occurred.
South Carolina extends this rule to places beyond the home and car. Persons at their job or anywhere else they are allowed to be and not doing anything illegal are allowed to stand their ground if there is a reasonable belief that deadly force is the only way to prevent bodily harm or death.
There are several instances where the use of deadly force, even if there is a reasonable fear, is not allowed.
1. Deadly force should not be used against a person who is legally allowed to be in the residence, location, or car. This protection does not extend to someone violating a protection order, restraining order, or condition of bond;
2. Deadly force should not be removed if the person being removed from a car or residence is a child or grandchild and the removing person is a parent or guardian;
3. Deadly force cannot be used by a person already engaging in illegal activities. A person probably cannot “stand their ground” if their home doubles as a drug dealing location;
4. Deadly force is not allowed on an on-the-job police officer who makes it known that they are a police officer or the person using force should reasonably know that person is acting within their law enforcement duties. This means you cannot shoot a cop who has just pulled you over, even if you reasonably fear that you will go to jail or get a ticket.
King Law Offices is a full-service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively, and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day. If you have a current conflict with your title or your deed, contact King Law at 888-748-KING (5464) for a consultation. We have offices located across western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. We are here to serve you and to guide you as we navigate this journey together.