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The use of deadly force is one of the most controversial subjects today, whether it is by law enforcement officers in the field or by civilians in their own homes. In this blog, I’ll take a look at what it means to “stand your ground” and how Michigan’s self-defense law applies to this concept.

In Michigan, civilians have the right to stand their ground if they believe they are in grave danger. They can defend themselves and others if they believe that someone is going to cause them serious bodily harm, and they do not have a duty to retreat to safety or avoid conflict. How does this relate to deadly force?

A person can use deadly force to defend themselves in the following situations:

  • They honestly and reasonably believe that they must use that level of force to prevent their or another person’s death or serious bodily harm.
  • They honestly and reasonably believe that they must use deadly force to prevent the kidnapping or sexual assault of themselves or another person.
  • Under Michigan’s “Castle Doctrine” law, a person also has the right to use deadly force against someone who has broken into their home.

Exceptions to Michigan’s Stand Your Ground Law

Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law does not apply if the person in question had committed or was committing a crime when they used deadly force. Acts of self-defense are not protected if they are carried out during the commission of a crime. For example, a person who is robbing a bank would not be protected if they used deadly force against a security guard who was trying to stop the robbery—even if that security guard was attempting to use deadly force against the would-be robber.

Duty to Retreat

A key part of Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law relates to one’s obligation to retreat. Some states have rules in place that actually require a person to retreat (if they can safely do so) instead of standing their ground and defending themselves. Michigan has no such law, stating that a person has “no duty to retreat” if faced with one of the three situations listed earlier in this article.

12 states impose a duty to retreat if one can do so with absolute safety:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Wisconsin

In New York, however, one’s duty to retreat is waived if they were threatened with kidnapping, robbery, burglary, or sexual assault when they used deadly force to protect themselves.

Arguments for & Against Stand Your Ground Laws

Those who oppose Stand Your Ground laws sometimes refer to them as “shoot first” laws. They claim that these laws put people at risk of being harmed or killed because civilians are encouraged to use deadly force to protect themselves. Supporters take a different stance, noting that laws that enforce a duty to retreat effectively place more importance on criminals’ lives over victims’ lives. Some believe that changes to Stand Your Ground laws would make them safer, like requiring a person to fire a warning shot or show a gun before using deadly force in self-defense.

Was It Self-Defense? Talk to a Farmington Hills Attorney.

If you have been accused of any violent crime, you could face significant penalties that lead to years or decades in prison. Self-defense is a valid argument for the use of force—even deadly force—against a person you truly believed was going to cause you or another person harm. As a Farmington Hills criminal defense attorney, I understand how Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law applies to self-defense. I can talk to you about what happened, investigate the matter, and determine whether this is a valid defense against your charges.

To find out more about my firm and how I can help you, call (248) 599-0054.