Before you plan an elaborate Halloween costume and carve the pumpkin, let’s discuss some of the mischief and dangers that lurk around the Halloween season. Obviously, this Halloween will be much different than in years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many communities and neighborhoods have canceled trick-or-treating and the number of Halloween festivals, parties, and events is likely to be greatly reduced in fear of spreading the virus.
Whether you intend to take part in trick-or-treating or otherwise celebrate Halloween, we thought it would be a good time to remind you of what the law allows in relation to the Halloween season.
Masks, Weapons, and Halloween Costumes
When deciding what costume to wear and what accessories to carry as part of your costume, you must consider several South Carolina Laws. Many people will be wearing masks this year—some as part of a costume and others as a precautionary item against the spread of COVID-19. In either case, it is perfectly legal to carry your concealed firearm if you are a permit holder, while wearing your Halloween or COVID-19 mask. Further, remember, South Carolina is not an open carry state, so carrying your handgun openly would still be a violation of South Carolina law, even if it is unloaded.
Although certain other types of weapons carried as part of your costume might not be illegal, such as knives, stun guns, small tear gas dispensers, or metallic knuckles, carrying of real weapons may not be a good idea. Not everyone may get that carrying these types of devices is just “all in good fun” as part of the Halloween revelry. Be practical when you put on your Halloween costume. A night of good fun could be ruined by an encounter with law enforcement, even if you are not doing anything illegal.
Defending Against Mischief
Often, teens seem to prefer the trick more than the treat during Halloween. Therefore, let’s examine what your rights are when defending yourself, your family, and your property from these mischief makers. If someone is trespassing on your property, whether they are destroying your Halloween decorations or just strolling across your lawn, you have the right to command them to leave.
If the trespassers do not leave, South Carolina law authorizes the use of non-deadly force to eject them from your property. Typically, Halloween pranks include rolling someone’s home or trees with toilet paper or perhaps throwing eggs at cars or houses, or smashing decorations and pumpkins. While potentially dangerous, these are not the types of situations where deadly force would be justified. What is your best option in these circumstances? Simply call 911.
Fortunately, most of the neighborhood ghosts and goblins are more interested in making mischief rather than trying to break into someone’s residence. However, if someone should attempt to break into your home, South Carolina’s Castle Doctrine provides a powerful defense should you be required to use deadly force. Contained in the S.C. Code Ann. §16-11-440(A) the Castle Doctrine applies to your dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle. It presumes that a person who has reason to believe that an unlawful, forcible entry or act is occurring or has occurred, who uses deadly force to defend against such act was in reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to themselves or another. Obviously, if things escalate beyond the normal type of Halloween vandalism such that the mischief makers were attempting to enter your home or occupied vehicle forcefully and unlawfully, then you may be justified if you use deadly force under the Castle Doctrine.
We hope you have a safe and happy Halloween. Should you have any questions regarding activities and home defense during Halloween, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.