South Carolina Tweaks Process For Trial Under 'Castle Doctrine' Self-Defense Law

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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The state of South Carolina is updating their legal process when it comes to trials involving lethal use of self-defense.

South Carolina has a “Castle Doctrine” law, which gives defendants immunity from prosecution if a judge rules they killed someone while defending themselves or others in their home, workplace, or vehicle.

But from now on, defendants will be prosecuted the same as other non-Castle Doctrine defendants. If the defendant wishes to appeal the outcome of their trial using the Castle Doctrine, their appeal will go straight to the state’s Supreme Court.

"This is a tremendous development in state law, and it will streamline the whole process, which is much needed," attorney Duffie Stone said.

One South Carolina defendant who may be affected by the new law is Preston Oates. Oates was charged with manslaughter in December of 2010 after he shot and killed Carlos Olivera while trying to tow his car. A judge denied that the Castle Doctrine applied to Oates, but his attorney appealed the decision. His trial has been on hold since.

"I think the Supreme Court was recognizing the delays taking place, and this is not just unique to Preston Oates' case but was happening throughout the state,” Stone said.

Oates lawyer, Jared Newman, says that the delay on Oates trial should come to an end under the new law.

“I would think we probably would get an order from the Court of Appeals for dismissal or to hear our briefs very soon and then we would go to trial," Newman said. "The decision says we can't appeal after the judge's initial ruling, so I guess the Appeals Court will have to follow the law on that."

Source: Island Packet