It is generally illegal to use physical force against other people. If you strike someone else, you might find yourself facing assault charges, especially if you cause the other person a significant injury.
Not everyone accused of assault actually engaged in an illegal act of physical violence. Some people accused of assault actually engaged in behaviors protected under the law in South Carolina.
When might something that looks like an act of assault actually be a legal act, rather than a crime?
When you act to defend yourself from an immediate threat
South Carolina law allows you to use physical force, possibly including lethal force, to defend yourself from acts of violence committed by other people. If someone else threatens you or attacks you and puts you in fear for your life or safety, fighting back to defend yourself is technically legal even if you harm the other person attempting to stop their violence and leave the situation.
When you asked to defend your property
If someone breaks into your home with some kind of criminal intent, you can use physical force to stop them. People sometimes also use physical force to defend themselves and their property during a robbery or even an attempted carjacking. Although many people will advise you to simply hand your property over to a criminal to avoid physical violence, you may have the right under the law to use force to defend your property.
When you act to defend someone else from violence
Perhaps you have to become physically aggressive to protect your child from an act of violence. Maybe you don’t even know the other person, but you happen upon an assault or other violent crime in progress and feel like you must intervene to save another person.
Using physical force to stop someone else from causing bodily harm to a third party is legal, just like defending yourself or your personal property. Using force for self-defense, the defense of your property or the defense of other people could potentially lead to criminal charges despite your good intentions.