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Many people in the U.S. have heard of self-defense laws, which can protect you from criminal prosecution for protecting yourself, your property, or someone else. If you were criminally charged for using force against another person in what you felt was an act of self-defense, you may be confused about why.

You can be arrested and charged with a crime for using force against another person, even if you believe you were defending yourself. However, the outcome of your case depends on your unique situation, your understanding of the law, and your ability to prove that you acted within the boundaries of South Carolina legislation. 

Discover what you need to know about self-defense before your case is tried.

The 2006 Protection of Persons and Property Act

Prior to 2006, it was the law of the land in South Carolina that you had the duty to retreat before using force against someone whom you felt was trying to harm you. However, in 2006, the state passed the Protection of Persons and Property Act. 

This law not only removed the duty to retreat but also stated that if an intruder forces their way into a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle or attempts to remove a person against their will from any of these places, a person who uses deadly force against that intruder can claim they had a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily injury. This “reasonable fear” is paramount in proving a self-defense case.

The 2006 Protection of Persons and Property Act changed the legal landscape surrounding self-defense laws and empowered citizens to protect themselves, their property, and those around them. Understanding this law is crucial for your self-defense awareness. 

Understanding What Qualifies as Self-Defense Under the Law

It’s not enough just to say you used force in self-defense. You must be able to prove it under the Protection of Persons and Property Act. This means first proving that you were somewhere you had a right to be. If you were trespassing on the property or if you were in the middle of committing another crime, you would have a tough time proving your case.

Additionally, you must have believed that there was imminent danger and that the force you used was necessary to prevent a violent crime, great bodily injury, or death from happening to you or someone else. By law, the situation should be such that a reasonably prudent person would also have believed the same if put in that situation.

Finally, you must be able to prove that you did not provoke the attack. Instigating an attack and then claiming self-defense will also make your case very difficult to prove.

Experienced Legal Defense Can Help You Prove Your Case

The Protection of Persons and Property Act and other self-defense laws are meant to give those acting in self-defense immunity from criminal prosecution and civil suits brought by the victim. However, you may still have to prove that you acted in self-defense, that the law applies to you, and that you should not be charged.

Throughout your case, you’ll need the right evidence presented in the correct way to show that you acted within your rights. This evidence includes eyewitness testimony, video camera footage, or even an expert witness. Gathering and presenting this evidence is exactly what an experienced criminal defense attorney can do for you. If you’ve been charged with a crime but believe you were acting in self-defense, get in touch with a Spartanburg, South Carolina, criminal defense attorney from the Law Office of Mo Abusaft. Our legal counsel can evaluate your case and help you develop a solid plan for moving forward.