What is Eminent Domain? A Lawyer’s Eminent Domain Definition

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Eminent Domain refers to the right that the state, or someone authorized by the state, has to take private property for public use.

There are four elements to Eminent Domain that are crucial: that it is private property, that it was taken in some way, that it was taken for a public use, and that there was just compensation for that taking.

Property does not just refer to land but also may refer to water, air or even partial property, which could be if the value of a property has been diminished by other government action. For example, if a property has been changed from being waterfront to no longer being waterfront by the government filling in a pond or stream, that would diminish the value of the property and would be a partial property taking.

The government takes private property through condemnation proceedings. This is not the same as a property being condemned and does not indicate that there is anything wrong with the property.

Condemnation proceedings generally occur within the court system when the property owner does not agree that the government has the right to take the property or when the property owner does not agree on the suggested compensation for that property.

During this process property owners have the right of due process, meaning they have to be notified of the condemnation proceedings in a timely manner and given a chance to be heard on the issue, including presenting their own evidence or cross-examining any witnesses. The property owner also has the right to appeal the condemnation judgment or order.

If you’re facing any Eminent Domain or condemnation action, you need to contact an attorney to help you navigate through the process. The founder of the Bellamy Law Firm, Howell V. “Skeets” Bellamy Jr. and his partner, Robert S. Shelton, are experienced South Carolina Eminent Domain attorneys and are happy to help with any issues. Contact them to get expert help.