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Litigation Blog.
The seasoned lawyers and litigators at The Rubinstein Law Firm are here to share their insights with you.

Reviewing the reasonable use of self-defense

Accusations of violent crime in Michigan (up to and including murder) are often met with claims of self-defense. It may be easy for many to meet such claims with skepticism. Yet if asked, most would likely agree that there are situations where they may feel compelled to act to protect themselves and their loved ones.

This prompts the question of to what degree does Michigan state law allow one to act in self-defense. Understanding this also requires that one comprehends two similar (yet distinct) legal philosophies: “Stand Your Ground” and “the Castle Doctrine.”

When and where can one act in self-defense?

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “the Castle Doctrine” affords one to use force in defense against unlawful intrusions into their home. This recognizes that one had no duty to retreat from a confrontation in a place they are legally entitled to be. “Stand Your Ground” basically extends those protections to any situation where one feels threatened (regardless of the location).

Michigan’s self-defense law

Which philosophy does Michigan follow? The answer depends on the situation one finds themselves in. Per Section 2 of the state’s Self-Defense Act, the law permits the use of non-deadly force in defense when one uses such force in a place where they have a legal entitlement to be. This seems to follow the dictates of “the Castle Doctrine.”

However, the law goes on to say that one can employ deadly force in self-defense if they believe that only by the use of such force will they be able to prevent suffering any of the following:

  • Death
  • Great bodily harm
  • Sexual assault

The use of such force is not tied to any specific location. From this, one may infer that when there is a reasonable risk of any of the aforementioned threats, state law supports the “Stand Your Ground” principle.