What’s the difference between self-defense and castle doctrine?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2020 | Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

In a typical situation, assaulting another person in South Carolina could lead to jail time. But in some situations, you might have to act in order to defend yourself against an attacker.

Some situations fall under self-defense laws, while others might fall under “castle doctrine” or “stand your ground” laws. Knowing the difference between the two is important if you ever have to defend your actions in court.

What’s the difference between self-defense laws and castle doctrine?

Both types of laws might protect you from criminal charges if you defend yourself against an attacker. However, they have key differences. If you want to argue self-defense, you might have to argue that you attempted to retreat before fighting back. Some states have “stand your ground” laws that allow you to fight back against an attacker without trying to retreat, while others expect you to prove that you made an effort to avoid a physical altercation.

If someone entered your house and attempted to commit violent crimes, the castle doctrine is likely to be more appropriate. The castle doctrine allows you to defend yourself against an intruder without trying to flee or retreat. However, you might have to prove that you owned the residence, the other person posed a threat and you were justified in using excessive force.

One key factor in determining which set of laws applies is your physical location at the time of the attack — more specifically, your ownership interest in the home or vehicle you were in when attacked. Some states also allow you to use deadly force against an attacker without fear of criminal charges. South Carolina is one of them.

Should you hire an attorney to help you defend yourself?

You might have been able to defend yourself against an attacker, but if they drag you into a court battle, the fight still isn’t over. An attorney can help you defend yourself in court and potentially prove that you were justified in your use of force. They can also help determine the best possible way to approach your case and result in a successful outcome.