South Carolina Requests to Charge – Criminal (2018)


§ 1-24 Flight

It is improper for the trial judge to instruct the jury on the law of flight.

In State v. Grant, 275 S.C. 404, 272 S.E.2d 169 (1980), the Supreme Court of South Carolina held:

While an instruction on flight has been acceptable law for some time in most jurisdictions, we are inclined to think that henceforth it is more appropriate for the judge to decline any charge whatsoever on this issue…

The charge on flight oftentimes has the potential for creating more problems than solutions. While we no longer sanction this charge by the judge, we recognize that evidence of flight remains proper. We also recognize that it is oftentimes appropriate for counsel to argue to the jury the inferences growing out of flight. However, we believe that the “law of flight” in a judge’s charge places undue emphasis upon that part of circumstantial evidence and it should not be charged hereafter.

Id. at 407-08, 272 S.E.2d at 171.