Stand Your Ground: Is it gaining or losing ground in South Carolina?

Fulton & Barr: The Legal Pad
October 21, 2014

25-year-old Whitlee Jones had a right to kill her boyfriend.

According to a judge in Charleston, S.C. earlier this month, Jones received immunity from criminal charges under the Protection of Persons and Property Act– better known as “Stand Your Ground” law – because she was the victim of domestic violence and acted in self-defense.

The Protection of Persons and Property Act states that every person has the right to protect themselves by using deadly force in his/her personal, private space (including an occupied vehicle, business or home) against an attacker or intruder whom is trying to cause bodily injury, kill them or commit any violent act against them. The act grants immunity from criminal charges for any person who protects themselves under these circumstances with the exception of using deadly force against a police officer.

The judge believed Jones had the right to protect herself from an attacker, even though the attacker was her boyfriend who lived at the same residence. Solicitor Scarlett Wilson and Assistant Solicitor Culver Kidd disagree.

They plan to appeal the case and have asked lawmakers to be more explicit in the bill, as they believed the law’s only purpose was to protect people from home invaders and strangers who posed an imminent deadly risk.

Kidd called the law a criminal’s best contingency defense and “a potential license to kill.”

Public Defender Ashley Pennington said in The Post and Courier, “Confusion about the law has been an enabling factor, historically, that might have allowed more domestic violence. People were afraid to defend themselves. This law allows people who are being attacked to defend themselves.”

This debate has caused quite a stir with stories springing up nationwide aboutSouth Carolina’s lack of protection for domestic violence victims and racial profiling who the law was created to protect. The same rings true for interpretations of this law in Florida, which is the law SC used as a model when creating the Protection of Persons and Property Act in 2006.

Fulton & Barr would like you to weigh-in on “Stand Your Ground” law. Should it be used for immunity in domestic violence cases, when a domestic violence victim feels physically threatened by her abuser?

Read the summary of the aforementioned case below, and then, respond to our poll.

Summarized from Charleston’s The Post and Courier:

One evening in November 2012, Jones and Lee were arguing because she wouldn’t give him back a cell phone he’d given her as a gift. Lee acts out violently, dragging her by the hair through the neighborhood. This prompts a neighbor to call 911 and report the incident. By the time an officer arrives, Jones had left the premises and Lee denied any physical violence. The only evidence of a potential altercation, tufts of her weave (hair) laying in the middle of the road.

Later, Jones returns to pack up her personal belongings and move out (leave) Lee. Jones said that Lee became angry and violent again, standing in her way and shaking her. She stabbed him once in the heart – with a knife she’d just found upstairs and stored in her bra for protection. Lee died from that one stab wound. He was 29 years old.

While there were no prior domestic violence charges, Lee had an arrest record for possession and a misdemeanor in property damage related to an escalated argument between him and an ex-girlfriend. Jones has no prior record.

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