Recent break-ins bring up South Carolina self defense law - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Recent break-ins bring up South Carolina self defense law

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF)- South Carolina state law states a homeowner has the right to protect themselves and their property from harm under the "Protection of Persons and Property Act", also known as the "Common Law Castle Doctrine".

The law "authorizes the lawful use of deadly force under certain circumstances against an intruder or attacker in a person's dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle."

The bill provides that there is no duty to retreat if (1) the person is in a place where he has a right to be, including the person's place of business, (2) the person is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and (3) the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent death, great bodily injury, or the commission of a violent crime.

 A person who lawfully uses deadly force is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action, unless the person against whom deadly force was used is a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his official duties and he identifies himself in accordance with applicable law or the person using deadly force knows or reasonably should have known the person is a law enforcement officer."

Myrtle Beach Police Spokesperson Captain David Knipes says homeowners should always call 911 if they feel threatened, but the law does protect them if the use of deadly force becomes necessary to protect their homes.

"The law provides certain protections...you have to do whatever you have to do to protect yourself and your property," Knipes says.

James Gagum, an Horry County resident, was forced to shoot and kill an intruder entering his home in 2010, according to Horry County Police.

The incident occurred on Wayside Road outside Conway in Horry County.

One of the suspects entering Gagum's home was killed when Gagum shot him in self defense, and another, David Levon Graham is currently serving an 8 year prison sentence for charges related to the home invasion.

Gagum's neighbor, Alexis Hodge, says she would have done the same thing if she were put in Gagum's situation.

"I would have shot him too.  We work hard for our stuff and people think they can just come in and take it.  we have to protect ourselves," Hodge says.

A possible third suspect in that crime was never found.

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