The following is a video transcript.
You hear a noise and look out your window to see a hooded figure at your car, about to break your driver’s side window! What do you do? What can you do? We’re often asked this question by U.S. LawShield members who want to know what the laws of defending their property on their property are. The answer to this question is controlled by South Carolina Citizens Arrest Statutes.
South Carolina Citizens Arrest Statutes
When your car is parked outside your home and no one is in it, it is just another piece of property, and the use of force laws governing the protection of property apply. These laws are found in South Carolina Code Annotated § 17-13-10 and § 17-13-20, which both discuss when a citizen may make an arrest, and what methods can be used.
South Carolina Code Section § 17-13-10
South Carolina Code Annotated § 17-13-10 allows you to make an arrest if you view a felony, or larceny being committed, or if you receive sufficient information to believe a felony has been committed. The law extends to a misdemeanor larceny.
South Carolina Code Section § 17-13-20
Further, South Carolina Code Annotated § 17-13-20 clarifies the times when a citizen may make an arrest, and describes the means to be used.
South Carolina Code Annotated § 17-13-20 states:
A citizen may arrest a person in the nighttime by efficient means as the darkness and the probability of escape render necessary, even if the life of the person should be taken, when the person:
- has committed a felony;
- has entered a dwelling house without express or implied permission;
- has broken or is breaking into an outhouse with a view to plunder;
- has in his possession stolen property; or
- being under circumstances which raise just suspicion of his design to steal or commit some felony, flees when he is hailed.
Although South Carolina Citizens Arrest Statutes allow the use of force: to effectuate an arrest and even use deadly force at nighttime if the person has committed a felony and is fleeing, clearly the safest course of action is to call 911. This is especially true when talking about the protection of solely property, and not an intrusion into one’s home or business. Should you have any questions regarding protecting your property, or what to do if you see someone stealing your unoccupied car, please give U.S. LawShield a call and ask to be connected to your Independent Program Attorney.
Argh! I’m actually disappointed in this analysis and have been with uslawshield and their attorneys recently. All of them completely leaving out the South Carolina “Defense of Habitation” in the analysis which is an additional defense to the “Protection of Persons and Property Act” and the common law “Self-Defense and Castle Doctrine”. State v. Bradley 126 S.C. 528, 120 S.E. 240 (1923), “the right of the occupant to expel the trespasser and to use such force as might be necessary, even to the taking of his life, being limited to the place of habitation (or its curtilage…). Clearly this means you have another defense if you’re trying to remove a trespasser trying to steal property from your driveway since that is part of your curtilage. State v. Rye, 375 S.C. 119 (2007) continues this legal theory with “As the defense of habitation provides, defending one’s home or premises means ending an unwarranted intrusion through the use of reasonably necessary means of ejection”. That entire case involved the curtilage of the defender’s land and his property in general. Clearly missed that entire body of law in this analysis. You shouldn’t have to arrest someone to remove them from your property and be able to just tell them to leave and use reasonable means of ejection if they attack in the process. If being taken at gunpoint removes them from your property then that is a win.