In South Carolina, you could be charged with a serious criminal offense if you threaten to do harm to someone with a weapon, or if you use a weapon to injure or kill someone. However, you can defend yourself from charges if you acted in self-defense.
Self-defense laws do not necessarily give you a license to use a gun or other weapon to hurt someone in any circumstance where you may feel afraid. You need to understand what the law allows you to do and ensure that you can meet the legal criteria for self-defense.
You also need to be able to convince a prosecutor not to charge you because you acted in self-defense, or convince a court not to convict if you actually do face charges.
South Carolina has a “stand your ground” law which protects those who use force in self-defense. The stand your ground law is found in the Code of Laws in Title 16, section 16-11-440.
According to this law, if a person is not doing anything illegal and that person is attacked in any place where he or she has a right to be (including your home, your work, or a public place), that person has the right to stand his ground and “meet force with force, including deadly force,” as long as he “reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or another person or to prevent the commission of a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60.”
For stand your ground laws to protect you, you must have actually believed that you or someone else would be hurt or that a violent crime would have been committed if you had not taken action. Your belief of an imminent risk of harm must have been a reasonable one.
Stand your ground laws are controversial, but they can make it easier for people to defend themselves when they face threats. In states without such laws, you might have a duty to retreat, which would mean that self-defense would not be justified if you were able to leave the place where you were being threatened.
It can still be a challenge to prove that your actions were justified and that you do not deserve penalties for acting in self-defense. You should have a criminal defense lawyer helping you if you acted in self-defense to save yourself or a loved one.