Criminal Defense Law Center
West Michigan

Are you aware of the michigan stand your ground law?

The Michigan Stand Your Ground Law

Laws that deal with self-defense have quite a bit of variance from state to state. Under the michigan stand your ground law, citizens can use deadly force to protect themselves if they have reason to believe their life is in danger.

Under the michigan stand your ground law, a person has no duty to retreat if they are being threatened unlawfully by another person. This law protects a person no matter where they are. 

This law is different than Michigan’s “castle doctrine” law. the castle doctrine allows a person to use deadly force but only against another person who has broken into their home.

In the state of Michigan, a person can use dead force and have no duty at all to retreat when there is an honestly held and reasonable belief that deadly force must be used to prevent imminent death, a sexual assault to you or another person or to protect yourself or another person from great bodily harm.  If you are a victim of a potential kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct or murder, you can use deadly force under the Stand Your Ground Law.

MCL 780.972

MCL 780.972 reads,

(1) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if either of the following applies:

  (a) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.

  (b) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent sexual assault of himself or herself or of another individual.

  (2) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses force other than deadly force may use force other than deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if he or she honestly and reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual.

Why Was The Stand Your Ground Law Passed?

The Michigan stand your ground law was passed to protect the general public and to lower the amount of violent crimes that are committed against law abiding citizens. There is a belief that individuals will not engage in violent crimes as much if they will be putting their own lives or well being at risk.

Our state’s law is very similar to laws in other states such as West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Tennessee.

As you can see from the above cited statue, the law is called “stand your ground” because there is no duty to retreat when an individual believes that deadly force is needed to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves or another person. This law also applies to a person both in their house and outside their house. 

Michigan Stand Your Ground Law Vs. The Castle Doctrine Law

A person that used self-defense inside their house is given the presumption of self defense contained in MCL 780.971 which is called the “castle doctrine.” This castle doctrine law will only apply in a strict set of circumstances. At trial, if a judge or jury believes these set of narrow circumstances do not apply to your case, then you will not be given the presumption that you were acting in self-defense.  

The stand your ground law can be use with non-deadly force. This law gives a person the right to use the degree of force required under the set of circumstances the person is facing at that time. You are required to meet the three required criteria above when also using non-deadly force.

Michigan’s law regarding stand your ground is broader in application than the Castle Doctrine. The stand your ground law does not have an “objective standard.” The Castle Doctrine’s objective standard does not give people who use deadly force the benefit of presumption. Michigan’s stand your ground law only requires that a person have an “honest and reasonable” belief they life is in danger or that great bodily harm will happen to them or another person. In most cases, a jury of 12 people will be the ones who decide if your belief as “honest and reasonable.”

When the statute reads “honest and reasonably,” it is creating what lawyers call a “two-prong” test. This means that a person who uses lethal force to defend himself must believe that death, great bodily harm or sexual assault was prevented. The final part of the test is that this belief must be objectively reasonable under the circumstances.

My Take On Michigans Self Defense Laws

Attorney Shawn Haff and The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan strongly advice people who have a CPL and plan on using that gun for self-defense purposes to know your right and know the law. Do not take a chance on your liberty being jeopardized by not understanding the Castle Doctrine and the Stand Your Ground defense.

The State of Michigan is one of many states that has liberalized laws when it comes to letting their citizens carry a concealed weapon (CCW). The vast number of guns that are in the hands of people across Michigan will lead to more people using their firearms in self-defense. If you are able too, take some classes at the NRA to learn about how to properly use your firearm. If that isn’t an option, take some classes from local experts who know how to properly train you in using a firearm.

Great instructors on the use of firearms and self-defense speak with one voice when they say it is always better not to fire a gun if possible. The use of deadly force has numerous life altering impacts on a person: financially, legally and psychologically. Massad Ayoob, who is an expert in the use of guns and self-defense says that gun should be used only “in the gravest extreme.”

A time magazine article from April 9th, 2012 deals with the controversial case that resulting in the death of Trayvon Martin and how the “stand your ground” defense was used successfully in the case. A question that was asked in that article was “When it comes to a confrontation on a dark street, at least two competing impulses come to mind: Do you stand your ground or turn the other cheek? Engage or run?” The simple fact of the matter is that many times a person is not able to run and must stand their ground. In times where a person can successfully run away, it would be advised for a person to do so. Even if you are justified in using self-defense, the mental anguish from taking the life of another human being can weigh on a person for the rest of their life.  

If you are facing criminal charges regarding your use of a weapon to defense yourself or a loved one, you need to contact Shawn now at 616-438-6719! Shawn has the lawyers and knowledge and skills needed to get you the best results possible! Do not delay, call Shawn today!

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