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802 Coleman Blvd., Suite 200, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina 29464
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License to kill

In the May 13 edition of The Post and Courier Brian Hicks refers to the South Carolina citizens arrest statutes as a “license to kill”. These statutes were enacted in 1866. State v. McAteer, 333 S.C. 615 (1999) affirmed that “South Carolina recognizes no common law right of a citizen to arrest, without a warrant, for a misdemeanor.” State v. Davis, 50 S.C. 405 (1897) held “at common law a private person had the right to arrest, without warrant, any person who committed or attempted to commit a felony in his view”. State v. Griffin, 74 S.C. 412 (1906) took this a step further by ruling “[T]he proof must show prima facie a legal felony was committed, and that the prisoner was the perpetrator.” In other words, a citizen may only effect an arrest upon another citizen is the offense is a felony and was committed in view of the arresting citizen. The use of lethal force is not addressed anywhere in the rulings. A citizen will forfeit the citizen arrest defense and the “Stand Your Ground” immunity if that citizen “initiates the confrontation”. I am not sure how a citizen could lawfully effect such an arrest without initiating the confrontation. Rather than playing James Bond and exercising the privileges of the “license to kill”, be a observant witness and leave the arrest to law enforcement. Otherwise you may find yourself in the defendant’s chair.