Industry News for Criminal Defense Law in Columbia, South Carolina


In Columbia, SC, understanding self-defense laws is crucial for anyone concerned about their personal safety and legal rights. These laws, which provide the framework for protecting oneself or others in threatening situations, are complex and nuanced. At Thompson and Hiller, we specialize in criminal defense law and have extensive experience navigating the intricacies of self-defense cases in South Carolina.

Understanding Self-Defense Laws

In South Carolina, self-defense laws allow individuals to protect themselves or others from harm under certain conditions. These laws recognize the right to use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend against an imminent threat of injury or death. However, the key lies in the word “reasonable” – the level of force used must be appropriate to the threat faced.

Difference Between Self-Defense and Defense of Others

While self-defense refers to protecting oneself, defense of others involves protecting someone else from harm. In South Carolina, an individual can legally defend another person if they reasonably believe that the person is in imminent danger of suffering bodily harm. The defender’s perception of the threat must be reasonable and the response proportionate to the threat.

Stand Your Ground Law

The “Stand Your Ground” law in South Carolina, also known as the “Protection of Persons and Property Act,” allows individuals to use deadly force without the duty to retreat when they are in a place they have a legal right to be. This law applies if the person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to themselves or another person.

Application in Real-Life Scenarios

The Stand Your Ground law can apply in various scenarios, from home invasions to confrontations in public places. However, the circumstances under which it applies are specific. For instance, the law does not permit the use of deadly force in response to verbal provocation alone.

Limitations and Legal Implications of Claims

While South Carolina’s self-defense laws provide significant protection, they come with limitations. A key limitation is the requirement that the perceived threat must be immediate and imminent. Using force in anticipation of a future threat, or in retaliation for a past act, does not qualify.

Furthermore, the degree of force used in self-defense must be proportional to the threat. For example, using deadly force in response to a non-life-threatening attack could exceed the bounds of lawful self-defense and result in criminal charges.

Legal Consequences 

Exceeding the boundaries of lawful self-defense can lead to significant legal consequences, including criminal charges for assault or even manslaughter. It is crucial to understand that claiming self-defense in a legal proceeding shifts the focus to whether the accused’s perception of the threat and their response were reasonable under the circumstances. This assessment can be complex and subjective, often requiring the insight of experienced legal professionals like Thompson and Hiller.

Case Studies: Real-Life Examples of Self-Defense Claims

To better understand the application of self-defense laws, let’s examine a few real-life cases:

  1. Home Invasion Case: In a notable case, a Columbia resident used deadly force against an intruder in their home. The resident was not charged, as their action was deemed a lawful exercise under the state’s Castle Doctrine, part of the Stand Your Ground law, which provides strong legal protection for individuals defending themselves in their own homes.
  2. Public Altercation Case: Contrastingly, in a public altercation where a man used deadly force claiming self-defense, the court found his response excessive. The man faced criminal charges as the threat was not deemed to be of a nature that justified deadly force.

Analyzing these cases, Thompson and Hiller emphasize the importance of understanding the nuances of self-defense situations. Each case is unique, and the legality of actions taken in self-defense can vary significantly based on specific circumstances.


Understanding the laws in Columbia, SC, is essential for anyone who may find themselves in a threatening situation. Knowing the difference between self-defense and defense of others, the specifics of the Stand Your Ground law, and the limitations of claims can make a significant difference in the aftermath of a defensive incident.

If you face legal issues related, seeking professional legal advice is crucial. Thompson and Hiller offer expert guidance and representation, ensuring that your rights are protected and your side of the story is heard. Remember, in matters of self-defense, the line between being a defendant and a victim can be thin, and having skilled legal representation can be your best defense.