Odds and Ends

Here are some interesting and/or useful South Carolina statutes that I’ve come across.  Just putting them here so you and I can find them easily if we need them:

SECTION 44-53-410. Prosecution in another jurisdiction shall be bar to prosecution

If a person is prosecuted, successfully or unsuccessfully, in another state or in the federal courts, the Constitution’s protection against double jeopardy does not apply.  Because the federal government and each state is a separate sovereign, in general, a person can be prosecuted multiple times.  If this comes up in S.C. state court, however, we have a statute that prohibits a successive prosecution after a conviction or acquittal in another state or federal court:

If a violation of this article is a violation of a Federal law or the law of another state, the conviction or acquittal under Federal law or the law of another state for the same act is a bar to prosecution in this State.

SECTION 17-13-60. Circumstances when persons are not to be arrested . . .

Law enforcement and even prosecutors will often serve bench warrants on a defendant when they appear for roll call or other court appearances.  It’s illegal – they can serve the papers but, pursuant to this statute, they cannot arrest the person while they are in court or while they are on the way to or from court:

No person shall be arrested while actually engaged in or attending military or militia duty or going to or returning from such duty, nor while attending, going to or returning from any court, as party or witness or by order of the court, except for treason, felony or breach of the peace. But in any such case process may be served without actual arrest of body or goods.

SECTION 17-13-50. Right to be informed of ground of arrest . . .

When a person is arrested, this statute says they have the right to know why they are being arrested, and if an officer fails to respond or lies about the reason for the arrest it is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison:

(A) A person arrested by virtue of process or taken into custody by an officer in this State has a right to know from the officer who arrests or claims to detain him the true ground on which the arrest is made. It is unlawful for an officer to:

(1) refuse to answer a question relative to the reason for the arrest;

(2) answer the question untruly;

(3) assign to the person arrested an untrue reason for the arrest; or

(4) neglect on request to exhibit to the person arrested or any other person acting in his behalf the precept by virtue of which the arrest is made.

(B) An officer who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

SECTION 17-23-40. Nolo contendere in misdemeanor cases.

A defendant can plead nolo contendere (no contest) to any misdemeanor, whether it is in General Sessions Court or a lower court, with the Court’s permission.  Nolo contendere is similar to an Alford plea – the difference is no contest pleas apply in misdemeanor cases and an Alford plea may be appropriate in a felony case in General Sessions Court.

The defendant in any misdemeanor case in any of the courts of this State may, with the consent of the court, enter a plea of “nolo contendere” thereto and upon so doing such defendant shall be dealt with in like manner as if he had entered a plea of guilty thereto.

SECTION 17-23-162. Presence of affiant or arresting officer to testify at preliminary hearing

Sometimes the officer who appears at the preliminary hearing is not the arresting officer or the affiant on the warrant – if they send an officer who does not have personal knowledge of the case, do not allow them to testify to what some other officer told them.  If they are not the affiant, arresting officer, or chief investigating officer for the case, move that they not be allowed to testify and that the case be dismissed for failure to prosecute.  Always have a copy of this statute with you at prelims:

The affiant listed on an arrest warrant or the chief investigating officer for the case must be present to testify at the preliminary hearing of the person arrested pursuant to the warrant.

SECTION 17-13-10 and 20:  Citizens Arrest

Any person can arrest a person and take them to a magistrate or judge, if 1) they see the person commit a felony; 2) they have information that the person committed a felony; or 3) they see the person commit a larceny.

Any citizen can arrest or even kill a person if it is nighttime and: 1) the person has committed a felony; 2) the person has entered a dwelling or even a storage building without permission; 3) the person has stolen property in their possession; or 4) it looks like they are stealing or committing a felony and they flee when hailed.

I don’t recommend arresting or killing any person even under circumstances justified by these statutes – police are not going to look favorably on it and there are too many potential legal pitfalls for the average person to think this through on the fly.  But, if you find yourself in the situation where force is necessary, you should be protected by these statutes.  My advice is to call the police if possible before doing anything authorized by these statutes – despite the language of the statutes, you may be opening yourself to criminal or civil liability if you take action against another person you think is committing or has committed a crime.

SECTION 17-13-10. Circumstances when any person may arrest a felon or thief.

Upon (a) view of a felony committed, (b) certain information that a felony has been committed or (c) view of a larceny committed, any person may arrest the felon or thief and take him to a judge or magistrate, to be dealt with according to law.
SECTION 17-13-20. Additional circumstances when citizens may arrest; means to be used.

A citizen may arrest a person in the nighttime by efficient means as the darkness and the probability of escape render necessary, even if the life of the person should be taken, when the person:

(a) has committed a felony;

(b) has entered a dwelling house without express or implied permission;

(c) has broken or is breaking into an outhouse with a view to plunder;

(d) has in his possession stolen property; or

(e) being under circumstances which raise just suspicion of his design to steal or to commit some felony, flees when he is hailed.


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