Solicitor weighs in on changes to SC's Castle Doctrine statute - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Solicitor weighs in on SC's Castle Doctrine law changes

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Preston Oates Preston Oates

New guidelines for South Carolina's Castle Doctrine, which is similar to Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, may help state solicitors bring cases to trial a lot sooner. 

The Castle Doctrine gives defendants immunity from being prosecuted, if a judge rules that that person acted in self defense. 

A judge can also rule that the law doesn't apply to certain cases. Before the South Carolina Supreme Court's ruling this week, defendants could appeal the judge's decision, which would delay the trial for up to two years, or longer. 

But now, defendants cannot file an appeal until after the trial. 

"This is a tremendous decision and I think a big improvement in South Carolina law because this streamlines that process," said 14th Circuit District Solicitor Duffie Stone. "It's now going to allow the solicitors to prosecute cases even if the defendant brings up the Castle Doctrine they're going to be able to get to these cases much quicker." 

One such case is that of a shooting on Dec. 24, 2010. Authorities said the tow truck driver Preston Oates shot Carlos Olivera after an argument involving where he was parked. 

Oates case has not yet gone to trial because it's in the appellate court. But that will soon change now that the supreme court has changed rules for Castle Doctrine. 

"When I see the ruling the South Carolina Supreme Court made it was a good feeling," said Nelson Olivera, the victim's brother. "To know that there's people there watching for the well being of the citizens." 

"I never thought the Castle Doctrine applied to his case," Stone said. 

Stone said Oates is one of three defendants in the 14th Circuit District who is trying to use the Castle Doctrine. 

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