Stand your Ground applies if you live Together

Stand your Ground, South Carolina

Yes it does.  On May 18, 2016 the South Carolina Supreme Court made it clear that the Stand your Ground doctrine does apply to people that live in the same residence, such as spouses, household members, or a co-tenant.

The facts of this case

Jones fatally stabbed her live-in boyfriend one time in the chest in their shared residence.  Jones gave a written statement that her boyfriend became physically abusive and he pushed, punched and dragged her by her hair down the street.  Jones left the apartment but returned when she cooled down.  Her boyfriend was throwing her things around so Jones called a friend to come and get her.  Jones went upstairs to get her shoes and “grabbed a knife for protection.”  Jones went downstairs and claimed her boyfriend grabbed her and started shaking her, she believed he was going to hit her again so she stabbed him in the chest, ran out of the apartment got into a car and drove away with two friends.  They got around the corner when Jones told her friends she stabbed her boyfriend so they turned around and drove him to hospital where he later died.  Jones was indicted for murder.

Before trial, Jones requested a Duncan hearing where she asserted immunity from prosecution under the Stand your Ground theory.  The courted granted her immunity and the State appealed on two issues.

The State’s argument

The state made two arguments in it’s appeal.  First, the State argued that domestic violence victims are not entitled to immunity under the Stand Your Ground theory if the incident occurred in their own residence.  Second, the state claimed the victim (Jones) was not acting in self-defense because she was not in imminent danger of losing her life and therefore, was not entitled to the defense of stand your ground.

The Court’s quick rebuke

So what’s this case really about.  Basically, the State interpreted subsection C of the Protection of Persons and Property Act (Stand your Ground) to mean that a person is not entitled to protection of Stand your Ground if you are attacked in your own home by a cohabitant.  The Circuit Court judge quickly disposed of this claim by stating:

To hold that a person cannot utilize subsection C if the person were inside of their own home would create a nonsensical result – that a person can defend themselves from attack by their spouses, lovers, or any other co-resident while outside of their home, but not inside of their home.

The State tried to argue that persons that live together were not entitled to immunity under stand your ground because of the language used in the statute.  Of course, the court shot down that proposal in a skinny minute.

Intent was to protect persons in their own home

Stand you r ground offers protection to persons within their own home that are faced not only by unwelcome intruders but also attackers, including those who are initially invited into the home and later place the homeowner in reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury.

We agree with the Court of Appeals that the phrase “another place” in subsection C encompasses a residence.  Furthermore the court went on to make it clear that:

We believe the legislature intended to authorize a cohabitant to invoke the protection of the Act but required this person to establish his or her reasonable fear of the attacker.

Criminal defense attorney Charleston, SC

Do you want to know if Stand your ground will be a defense in your case?  Call an experienced and trusted Charleston criminal defense lawyer at the Dale Savage Law Firm today for a free case consultation (843) 530-7813.

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