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Self-defense and bringing on the difficulty

Last week the SC Supreme Court handed down two opinions related to self-defense. I blogged recently about State v. Andrews and stand your ground immunity. This case is about self-defense (similar, yet different than stand your ground).

In a 3-2 decision State v. Williams, the court held that a defendant in this specific case was not entitled to a self-defense charge because he was responsible for bringing on the difficulty.

For a refresher on self-defense as a jury charge:

  • -There are four elements: defendant was without fault in bringing on the difficulty, defendant actually believed he was in imminent danger, a reasonable person would have held this belief, and defendant had no other means to avoid the danger. (See State v. Scott)

  • -The defendant has the burden of providing some evidence of each element. This can be done through the defendant's presentation or it may be found in the State's case.

  • -If the defendant meets this burden, then the State has to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that at least one of those elements does not exist.

In this case, the court held that the defendant failed the first element (defendant must not bring on the difficulty) because he brought a gun to the drug deal:

The court makes clear, that this is a very fact specific case.

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