State v. Davis

214 S.C. 34, 51 S.E.2d 86 (1948)



If a person is assaulted while on his own premises and is without fault, he is not bound to retreat in order to invoke the benefit of the doctrine of self-defense, but use  as much force as is reasonably necessary. This is true whether the attack occurs in defendant's home, place of business, or on property owned or lawfully occupied by him.


Defendant had an argument with the victim on the day of the murder. Later that night, defendant went to the store. The victim also arrived at the store and defendant overheard the victim ask the store owner to borrow a gun because he believed that defendant was going to shoot him. When the store owner refused the victim stated that he could get a gun somewhere else and left. Defendant testified that in overhearing the conversation, he became alarmed and went home and got a shotgun. On returning to the store through a cornfield defendant testified that he met the victim there who was carrying a rifle. Defendant contended that he shot and killed the victim in self-defense. Defendant was convicted for murder. On appeal to the Supreme Court of South Carolina, the defendant contended that in establishing his plea of self-defense, he had a right to claim immunity from the law of retreat since the shooting took place in a cornfield where defendant had worked.


Could the defendant claim immunity under the self-defense doctrine?




The court held that the cornfield was not defendant's place of employment. Therefore, the defendant could not claim immunity under the law of retreat because his presence in the cornfield was wholly unrelated to his employment.

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