In 2006, Michigan enacted the Self Defense Act, otherwise know as “Stand Your Ground” law, found at MCL 780.972. The law states:
780.972 Use of deadly force by individual not engaged in commission of crime; conditions.
(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.
Prior to this law, Michigan followed the common law doctrine that “a person had a duty to retreat before defending yourself”. Now, you do not have to retreat before defending yourself, but there are certain constraints. You must:
1. Not be engaged in the commission of a crime. If you are a felon, and carrying a gun (which is a violation of Michigan law), then use that gun to defend yourself, this defense will not be available to you.
2. Must be in a place you are legally allowed to be. So if you trespassing, and use deadly force to defend yourself, this self-defense will not be available to you.
3. You must honestly and reasonably fear imminent death of, imminent great bodily harm to yourself or to another individual, and/or fear of imminent sexual assault of yourself or of another individual. This means you must actually believe that your life is in danger, great bodily harm is imminent, or fear of sexual assault. In addition, that belief must be objectionably reasonable. This means the jury will decide, upon hearing all the facts, what a reasonable person in your situation would have done.
When you use this self-defense, it will create a rebuttable presumption the prosecutor must overcome to the jury. This means that the prosecutor must provide evidence to the jury that this presumption is untrue. That is why it is important to present your case properly to the jury.
If you acted in self-defense, and are still charged, it is extremely important to hire an attorney that practices in criminal law to prepare your defense and prepare for trial.