Lethal Force and Self-Defense in Michigan: What You Need to Know

Gavel and law books depicting Lethal Force and Self-Defense in Michigan

Michigan has the “Castle Doctrine” as a possible defense. However, you have reason to be cautious about using a gun for self-defense.

You only have to look at news reports to see the uptick in violence everywhere in the country. Gun violence on the streets, lethal fights breaking out between individuals, cop shootings, and the ubiquitous riots. There’s a high degree of tension in our country. 

Do you want to protect yourself or your family if someone is trying to attack you? Many Americans are worried about personal safety right now.

Are you concerned about what will happen to you if you shoot someone in self-defense? There are several high-profile cases in the news right now about people who used guns in self-defense receiving criminal charges while those who attacked or threatened them went free.

What are Michigan’s Self-Defense Laws?

Michigan self-defense laws are similar to those of other states. It is legal to protect yourself using deadly force in certain circumstances. Like a “stand your ground” law, you are legally within your right to use necessary force to defend yourself if you:

  • Believe force is necessary to prevent imminent death, bodily harm, or sexual assault of yourself or another person.
  • Are not engaged in a crime.
  • Are legally allowed to be where you are.
  • Believe deadly force is the only way to defend yourself.

If you are inside your home when the threat occurs, you have no “duty to retreat” under Michigan law. You may protect yourself inside your home from an intruder, which is also known as the Castle Doctrine.

What Does the McCloskey Case Tell Us?

Many Americans have heard by now about Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who shot and killed two people in Kenosha as a mob was chasing him. Or Jake Gardner, who tragically committed suicide days after being charged with several felonies for shooting a man in a scuffle outside of the bar he owned in Omaha, where protestors were gathering. Additionally, there are the McCloskey’s – who did not shoot anyone. 

Mark and Patricia McCloskey of St. Louise, MO, were subjected to a police search of their home. Then, they were subsequently charged with a single felony count each of unlawful use of a weapon.

The McCloskeys were each brandishing a firearm at a group of 300 protestors who had broken into their gated neighborhood and reportedly rushed at their house, saying they were going to kill the couple.

St. Louis officials have announced they will not prosecute nine people from that group with trespassing.

If this had happened in Michigan, the same thing might now be happening to the McCloskeys. Prosecutors argue that no one had broken into their home, and their lives were not in imminent danger.

Both of the McCloskeys will argue in court, no doubt, that threats of violence by a mob of 300 people against 2 constitutes imminent danger.

What do you do if a group like this comes at you in a threatening manner? That’s the question posed by all of these cases, and it remains to be seen how American law will deal with this issue. 

Important Things to Remember

Michigan’s Castle Doctrine or self-defense legislation doesn’t give you permission to use deadly force. Moreover, it won’t keep you from being prosecuted. It’s merely a defense for the use of deadly form. Additionally, it won’t keep you safe from criminal charges if what happened is outside the bounds of the narrow definition of self-defense.

If someone so much as removes a screen from your house, it could be considered breaking and entering. However, if 300 people are shouting outside your home, you will not be within your legal rights to shoot or even threaten them with a gun no matter how scared you are. 

Michigan Criminal Attorney

In conclusion, if you are or someone you love is being charged with a crime regarding self-defense, please call my office today. I will work aggressively to make sure your rights are protected. 

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