We follow our state’s laws every day, but some state lawmakers say there are some on the books that are so dated and ridiculous that they should be repealed.
It is, in fact, illegal to challenge someone to a gun or a sword fight and, before you end your weekend by slipping on your dancing shoes, you should know that it’s illegal to dance on a Sunday.
“Well, then even church would be closed. There are people dancing in church,” said Fountain Inn business owner, Sonya Haggan.
You can’t run a dance hall, either, unless you want to spend 30 days in jail. So, maybe you’ll just head into the office instead, right? Wrong. Technically, it’s illegal to work at all on Sundays, especially if you’re selling things “non-life sustaining” like cars or clothes.
“That’s crazy. Then everybody at a hospital or a store…everything is all out of whack,” added Hagan.
You can forget about taking the kids to an arcade. Juveniles can’t play pinball here. It’s also illegal for couples to live together before marriage, commit adultery, and engage in pre-marital sex.
These are just a sample of laws still on the books in South Carolina. Some date back to 1880.
“I tell you what, times have changed,” said Nadine Clarke of Simpsonville.
Obviously some of these laws are a little funny and most people can’t believe they actually exist, but the real question is can any of these laws actually land you in the slammer?
“These are silly laws,” said Fountain Inn Police Chief, Keith Morton.
So, that’s a “no.” In his forty years on the police force, Morton has learned not to get too surprised.
“I like to think that there was some thought given before these “heinous” crimes were addressed. Perhaps it was just a different time, but it is sort of humorous,” said Morton.
There’s a law that convicts a man who falsely promises marriage to a woman.
“They could escape the conviction if he married her,” explained 7 News Reporter, Addie Hampton.
“I don’t know who’s being punished,” laughed Chief Morton.
Despite the laughter, the lawmakers behind the movement to repeal these laws have a point. They say taking them off the books removes certain precedents in court that could free a criminal. It also shows how easy it would be to repeal not only the seemingly silly laws, but the more substantive laws that don’t ring as true today as they did when they were approved.
The bill to drop the old laws is sponsored by Representative Stephen Goldfinch of Murrells Inlet. Wednesday, he told 7 News the bill passed unanimously through sub-committee this week.
Goldfinch said they plan to attack other outdated laws in stages by first starting with 11. In addition to the laws mentioned above, other laws prohibit citizens from participating in a lottery (there’s a state lottery in South Carolina), and two others that deal with railroad line removal and the removal of hand or lever cars from railroad tracks and leaving them near crossings.
Full list of laws to be repealed:
SECTION 63-19-2430. Playing pinball.
It is unlawful for a minor under the age of eighteen to play a pinball machine.
SECTION 16-3-410. Sending or accepting challenge to fight.
It is unlawful for a person to challenge another to fight with a sword, pistol, rapier, or any other deadly weapon or to accept a challenge.
SECTION 16-3-420. Carrying or delivering challenge; serving as second.
Whoever shall (a) willingly or knowingly carry or deliver any such challenge in writing or verbally deliver any message intended as, or purporting to be, such a challenge, (b) be present at the fighting of any duel as a second or (c) aid or give countenance thereto shall, for every such offense, on conviction thereof, be forever disabled from holding any office of honor or trust in this State and shall be imprisoned in the Penitentiary for a term not exceeding two years, at the discretion of the court, and shall be fined in a sum not less than five hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars.
SECTION 16-19-20. Adventuring in lotteries.
Whoever shall be adventurer in or shall pay any moneys or other consideration or shall in any way contribute unto or upon account of any sales or lotteries shall forfeit for every such offense the sum of one hundred dollars to be recovered with costs of suit, by action or indictment in any court of competent jurisdiction in this State, one moiety thereof to and for the use of the State and the other moiety thereof to the person who shall inform and sue for the same.
SECTION 52-13-10. Operation on Sunday forbidden.
It shall be unlawful for any person to keep open or admit persons to any public dancing hall owned or operated by him or to allow any person to continue thereat between the hours of twelve o’clock, midnight, Saturday and twelve o’clock, midnight, Sunday, and all such places shall be and remain closed to the public between such hours. The violation of the provisions of this section shall subject the offender to a fine of not less than ten nor more than fifty dollars for the first offense and for the second offense not less than fifty dollars nor more than one hundred dollars or imprisonment for thirty days.
SECTION 53-1-40. Unlawful to work on Sunday.
On the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, it shall be unlawful for any person to engage in worldly work, labor, business of his ordinary calling or the selling or offering to sell, publicly or privately or by telephone, at retail or at wholesale to the consumer any goods, wares or merchandise or to employ others to engage in work, labor, business or selling or offering to sell any goods, wares or merchandise, excepting work of necessity or charity. Provided, that in Charleston County the foregoing shall not apply to any person who conscientiously believes, because of his religion, that the seventh day of the week ought to be observed as the Sabbath and who actually refrains from secular business or labor on that day.
SECTION 53-1-60. Sale of certain items on Sunday prohibited.
The sale or offer to sell the following items on Sunday is prohibited: Clothing and clothing accessories (except those which qualify as swimwear, novelties, souvenirs, hosiery, or undergarments); housewares, china, glassware, and kitchenware; home, business and office furnishings, and appliances; tools, paints, hardware, building supplies, and lumber; jewelry, silverware, watches, clocks, luggage, musical instruments, recorders, recordings, radios, television sets, phonographs, record players or so-called hi-fi or stereo sets, or equipment; sporting goods (except when sold on premises where sporting events and recreational facilities are permitted); yard or piece goods; automobiles, trucks, and trailers. No inference shall arise from the foregoing enumeration that either the sale or the offering for sale on Sunday of items or articles not mentioned is permitted.
SECTION 58-17-160. Railroads shall not remove from towns of more than 500.
In the exercise of the powers and rights conferred in this chapter no railroad shall remove its line of railway from any incorporated town of more than five hundred inhabitants through which it now runs.
SECTION 58-17-3400. Removal of hand or lever cars from track and leaving it near crossing shall be unlawful.
It shall be unlawful for any railroad section master or any person in charge of or connected with any hand car or lever car to remove it from any railroad track and continue it stationary within fifty yards of any public crossing other than at any regular railroad section house except when necessary to avoid an approaching train or when in charge of employees engaged in actual work upon such crossing, and then only for such a period as is necessary to avoid such train or to perform such work. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction, be fined not exceeding fifty dollars or be imprisoned not exceeding thirty days. Any railroad company shall be liable for damages for any horse frightened as a result of the violation of the provisions of this section by any of its employees.
SECTION 16-15-50. Seduction under promise of marriage.
A male over the age of sixteen years who by means of deception and promise of marriage seduces an unmarried woman in this State is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined at the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than one year. There must not be a conviction under this section on the uncorroborated testimony of the woman upon whom the seduction is charged, and no conviction if at trial it is proved that the woman was at the time of the alleged offense lewd and unchaste. If the defendant in any action brought under this section contracts marriage with the woman, either before or after the conviction, further proceedings of this section are stayed.
SECTION 16-15-60. Adultery or fornication.
Any man or woman who shall be guilty of the crime of adultery or fornication shall be liable to indictment and, on conviction, shall be severally punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than one year or by both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.