You are not a violent person and have no previous convictions. Suddenly, you find yourself facing criminal charges because you have protected yourself, your family or property.
Is there a legal justification for doing this? Are you entitled to defend yourself through the use of force? In short, the answer is yes. In certain circumstances, it may be legal for you to defend yourself by using force.
Where did the incident occur?
South Carolina is one of the few states that imposes a “stand your ground” law. This means that law-abiding citizens are justified in defending themselves if they genuinely believe either themselves or their families are under attack.
The law also extends to a person’s dwelling, which can mean their house, or any other domicile which is covered by a roof for the purposes of providing long-term shelter.
The property doesn’t need to be under the legal ownership of the accused. For instance, if they are protecting the residence of a friend or family member, having been legally invited as a guest, they can act in self-defense.
Vehicles are also included in the legislation. For instance, if a person faces an attack while operating or sitting in their motor vehicle, they are entitled to use force to defend themselves. Vehicles, dwellings and residences are grouped together under the category of “protected areas.”
Understanding your rights
If you hold a genuine belief that you are under attack, then you are legally entitled to stand your ground and use reasonable force to defend yourself. If you are facing charges, you need to explore your legal rights so that you can obtain the best possible outcome in your case.