South Carolina Requests to Charge – Criminal (2018)
PART VI DEFENSES
§ 6-6 Self-Defense
Self-defense is a complete defense. If established, you must find the defendant not guilty.
There are four elements required by law to establish self-defense. First, the defendant must be without fault in bringing on the difficulty. Second, the defendant must have been in actual imminent danger of losing his life or sustaining serious bodily injury, or he must have actually believed he was in imminent danger of losing his life or sustaining serious bodily injury. Third, if his defense is based upon his belief of imminent danger, a reasonably prudent person of ordinary firmness and courage would have entertained the same belief. If the defendant actually was in imminent danger, then the circumstances were such as would warrant a person of ordinary prudence, firmness, and courage to [strike the fatal blow] [shoot the fatal shots] in order to save himself from serious bodily harm or losing his own life. Fourth, the defendant had no other probable means of avoiding the danger of losing his own life or sustaining serious bodily injury than to act as he did in this particular instance. These are the elements of self-defense.
A defendant, in a self-defense case, has the right to act on appearances. A defendant must have believed he was in imminent danger, not that he was actually in such danger, because he had the right to act on appearances, and under the circumstances as they appeared to him, he believed he was in such danger and a reasonable, prudent man of ordinary firmness and courage would have entertained the same belief.
Words accompanied by hostile acts, may, depending on the circumstances, establish a plea of self-defense.
Self-defense is not available to one who uses language so opprobrious that a reasonable person would expect it to bring on a physical encounter, and which did actually contribute to bring it on.
If the defendant is justified in firing the first shot, the defendant is justified in continuing to shoot until it is apparent that the danger to his life and body has ceased. Ordinarily, a defendant is not justified in shooting or employing a deadly weapon after the adversary has been disarmed or disabled.
If the defendant was on his own premises, he had no duty to retreat before acting in self-defense. The defendant has no duty to retreat if by doing so he increases his danger of being killed or suffering serious bodily injury.
There has been evidence about bad blood or ill feelings between these parties. If there is bad blood or ill feelings between the victim and the defendant, and there have been antecedent threats between them, that would not give either of them in itself the right to injure or physically harm the other. If there are ill feelings or bad blood between the victim and defendant and they have that information, they have the right to judge the other person’s conduct more harshly than otherwise. If there have been ill feelings and bad blood, if there have been any antecedent threats, the other person is justified in interpreting acts more harshly than in the case of friends. If there are threats of harm or ill feelings or bad blood, the conduct is to be judged in that light, and the other person may judge more harshly in determining whether there is any necessity to act for that person’s safety.
There is no burden upon the defendant to prove self-defense. The defendant is not required to prove any element of self-defense. The burden is on the State to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you have a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt after considering all the evidence, including the evidence of self-defense, then you must find the defendant not guilty. On the other hand, if you have no reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt after considering all the evidence, including the evidence of self-defense, then you must find the defendant guilty.