Thursday, December 15, 2005

S.C. Court of Appeals holds a citizen may resist excessive force to defend himself if arrested

In State v. Williams, Williams argued that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury that an individual being arrested is permitted to defend himself against excessive force by the arresting officer during a lawful arrest. The court of appeals agreed with Williams, holding:

After examining the holdings in other jurisdictions and our own jurisprudence, we conclude that an individual, under the appropriate circumstances, has the right to utilize the amount of resistance reasonably necessary to defend himself in the event excessive force is utilized incident to a lawful arrest. This should not be interpreted to mean anyone is entitled to resist a lawful arrest or that the arrest becomes unlawful for purposes of prosecuting the underlying offense. On the contrary, to be entitled to the requested instruction, the evidence must clearly show that the accused complied fully with all requirements placed upon citizens subject to a lawful arrest and resisted only to the extent necessary to protect himself from serious physical harm. The facts of this case warrant a jury charge to that effect.

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