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

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.