Michigan is one of 26 states with a “stand your ground” law, an extension of the Castle Doctrine. This law allows someone to use lethal force to defend themselves or another person without the obligation to retreat. You can stand your ground in Michigan even if you are not in your home. Additionally, stand your ground laws protect victims from being charged for defending themselves. However, this does not mean that you can shoot or harm someone without reason.
Most states have what is known as castle doctrine laws on their books. These laws mean that individuals do not have a duty to retreat from their homes if someone is committing a crime. This means that if you are in your home and someone breaks in, you do not have to attempt to retreat before you use lethal force to protect yourself. Stand your ground laws take this concept and extend it to locations outside of your home.
When Can Lethal Force Be Used In Michigan?
The use of lethal force in self-defense or for the defense of another has limitations. You can use stand your ground if you believe the following are imminent:
great bodily harm; or
For example, you could see someone behaving illegally, but if you do not believe the person is about to do any of the above acts to you or another person, lethal force is not permitted. In states without a stand your ground law, you cannot use lethal force if you or the individual you are protecting have an opportunity to safely retreat. For example, if someone is threatening to kill you and has a gun in their hand, you would be required to attempt an escape if you could safely do so.
What Is Required For A Stand Your Ground Defense?
Under Michigan law, to be successful in a stand your ground defense, the defendant must prove the following three things:
- You are not engaged in a crime;
- You are somewhere you are legally allowed to be; and
- That you feel deadly force is the only way to defend yourself or another person against the threat.
The stand your ground law also applies to non-deadly force. You are generally only allowed to use the degree of force that is required to protect yourself or someone else. The above elements must also be satisfied when you use non-deadly force by showing that the force used was necessary to protect yourself or another person.
Michigan’s stand your ground is broad and requires an “honest and reasonable” belief to find you not guilty of a crime. If a jury also thinks your belief was honest and reasonable, you would likely be successful in your defense.
Stopping Forcible Felonies
Michigan stand your ground law also allows individuals to use lethal force to stop certain forcible felonies, but only in situations where death or great bodily harm are presumed to occur. For example, suppose you see someone with an assault rifle entering a location in which guns should not be present. If you shoot and kill that individual, depending on the circumstances of the case, you might have a successful stand your ground case. However, the police should always be notified when possible before lethal force is taken.
In Michigan, home invasions, carjackings, and kidnapping attempts are all presumed to be lethal threats. The stand your ground defense, depending on the circumstances, has been more successful as a defense when a defendant has killed or severely injured someone who committed those crimes.
Illegal Gun Used To Stand Your Ground
As discussed above, you cannot use the stand your ground law if you are committing a crime. Therefore, if you have obtained a gun illegally and you stand your ground, you may be unsuccessful in your defense and end up being charged for having an illegal firearm.
Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with murder, manslaughter, assault, or battery as a result of self-defense or defense of others, it is recommended that you contact an experienced attorney. The attorneys at George Law have ample experience representing individuals with self-defense claims. We will look at the evidence and present a strong argument to ensure you receive the best outcome possible for your case’s circumstances. To contact an experienced George Law attorney, call us at (248) 470-4300 or contact us online.