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Your attempts to defend yourself against attack can land you in legal trouble. Overzealous law enforcement officers or aggressive prosecutors can charge you with committing a crime if they believe your response to an attack was disproportionate to the threat. Depending on the situation, you could face prison time and a felony conviction for simply protecting yourself.

South Carolina law does give you the right to resist a threat to your safety or another’s safety with force. However, there are limitations on both when you can do so and the amount of force you can use. Keep these limitations in mind should you or a loved one ever come under attack.

The Facts Matter When You Defend Yourself

In any case involving the use of force to defend yourself, general principles apply. These general principles include the following:

  • You have a right to defend yourself against an unprovoked physical attack
  • Physical force of any kind is generally not allowed in response to verbal provocation
  • Deadly force is generally not legally permissible when confronted with less-than-deadly force
  • Aggressors and those breaking the law cannot later claim self-defense

These rules have numerous exceptions, underscoring the need for a knowledgeable South Carolina criminal defense lawyer. Some of these exceptions are as follows:

Aggressors Can Regain the Right to Defend Themselves

If you start a physical fight with someone, you are considered to be the aggressor and have no legal justification allowing you to defend yourself if the person fights back. 

You can regain this right if you attempt to back away from the fight and clearly communicate to the other person you no longer wish to fight them. If the other person presses their attack on you, now they are considered to be the aggressor, and you can defend yourself. 

The other circumstance where you can regain the right to self-defense is if the other person uses disproportionate force against you. If you start a fistfight, the other person cannot thereafter attempt to kill you. Note, though, that there are certain cases where someone can use deadly force to resist an attack from you, depending on where the attack occurs.

What to Do if You Are Arrested for Defending Yourself

When police are called to the scene of an altercation where you were attacked, it will likely be confusing for officers to sort out. They may be agitated and on heightened alert, which can increase the chance that someone will get hurt. Obey all commands of law enforcement officers and remember that you do not have the right to resist a wrongful arrest by officers physically.

Resist the urge to make a statement to police without an attorney present. This is especially important if the other person in the fight is dead or seriously wounded. Wait until you have a skilled attorney to protect your rights before explaining the situation to officers.

Call a South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer From the Law Office of Mo Abusaft Today

You need an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to protect your rights when you are wrongfully accused of a crime for simply defending yourself. The Law Office of Mo Abusaft and our South Carolina criminal defense attorney are prepared to jump into action swiftly. We will work to get you out of jail and fight to keep you from being unfairly convicted. 

Our office serves all of upstate South Carolina, including Spartanburg, Union County, Cherokee County, and elsewhere. Contact us to enlist a skilled criminal defense lawyer’s help in addressing your charges following an altercation or attack.