Castle Doctrine Law: Michigan

Michigan features an excellent castle doctrine provision among its laws concerning self-defense.

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So long as a person is defending the occupants of their dwelling, place of business, or vehicle from the threat of death or great bodily injury they have no obligation to attempt retreat prior to using lethal force.

Additionally, Michigan law also provides for the use of lethal force in defense to stop the commission or imminent commission of specific forcible felonies, namely home invasion and carjacking.

Although the law, in this case, is quite easy to understand, it is always in your best interest to dig deeper into the details.

We will provide you with those details and the rest of this article, and have helpfully included the exact text of the relevant statutes at the end for your review.

Fast Facts

  • In Michigan, a defender may employ lethal force in defense of themselves or someone else so long as they have a reasonable belief that death or great bodily injury may result from the attacker’s action.
  • Michigan law does not impose any obligation to retreat or to attempt retreat from any self-defense situation where the use of force, including lethal force is justified so long as the defender is not committing any crime and is in any place they have a lawful right to be. This includes their home, place of business, or vehicle.
  • Lethal force may also be used in defense of any of the aforementioned locations to prevent or stop an ongoing home invasion, kidnapping or carjacking.
Rundown of Michigan's Gun Laws - Ep. 5.400

Overview of Castle Doctrine Law in Michigan

Michigan’s castle doctrine statutes are quite clear.

So long as a person is defending themselves, or someone else, from the threat of death or great bodily injury at the hands of an attacker employing unlawful force, the use of lethal force is justified in self-defense.

This is particularly true when occupying any dwelling, place of business, or vehicle.

There is a stipulation that a defender is under an honest and reasonable belief that said great bodily injury or death is likely and imminent, and the use of lethal force is required to prevent it.

The law is clear that no defender has any obligation to retreat or to attempt retreat under such circumstances.

The law also permits the use of lethal force in self-defense to stop the imminent or ongoing commission of certain forcible felonies, namely home invasion, carjacking, kidnapping, and sexual assault.

Practically, this means that a defender need not wait for a home invader or carjacker to actually breach the door or other entry point into the home or occupied vehicle before utilizing force in self-defense.

Also, Michigan law makes clear that any person using deadly force in self-defense is presumed to have a reasonable belief that death or great bodily injury is imminent so long as the attacker is attempting forcible entry into the occupied dwelling or place of business or attempting to gain entry to an occupied vehicle as long as the act of entry itself is readily apparent and honestly believed to be genuine by the defender.

Restrictions

Not all felonies, and even forcible felonies, justify the use of lethal force in self-defense under Michigan state law.

It may be said that forcible felonies that do justify the use of lethal force in defense are necessarily felonies that could involve the risk of death or great bodily injury to the victim.

As mentioned above, specifically stated felonies are home invasion, carjacking, kidnapping, and sexual assault.

This might be circular logic, depending on the situation, as the vast majority of forcible felonies by nature entail significant risk to their victims.

However, it is up to you to understand the exact nuances of the law before you act. Ignorance is never any excuse.

Since legal definitions, even ones that would ordinarily seem apparent, can change from state to state and potentially even section to section, it is vital that you consult with a competent attorney who has a strong background in self-defense law as part of your preparations.

Additionally, defenders may never claim self-defense and particularly may never employ lethal force in self-defense if they were in the commission or preparing to commit any crime or were in or occupying any premises or they did not have a legal right to be.

Furthermore, defenders may not claim self-defense and may not use lethal force if they are the initial aggressor or antagonist in any encounter.

Assessment

Michigan’s self-defense laws are good all-around and their castle doctrine statute in particular is solid.

Citizens may use force, up to lethal force, in self-defense to protect themselves or someone else from death or great bodily injury at the hands of an attacker with no obligation to retreat.

At home, at their place of business, or in an occupied vehicle, defenders are further justified in using force to prevent the imminent commission of an attack.

Relevant Michigan Castle Doctrine Statutes

780.951 Individual using deadly force or force other than deadly force; presumption; definitions.

Sec. 1.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), it is a rebuttable presumption in a civil or criminal case that an individual who uses deadly force or force other than deadly force under section 2 of the self-defense act has an honest and reasonable belief that imminent death of, sexual assault of, or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another individual will occur if both of the following apply:

(a) The individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used is in the process of breaking and entering a dwelling or business premises or committing home invasion or has broken and entered a dwelling or business premises or committed home invasion and is still present in the dwelling or business premises, or is unlawfully attempting to remove another individual from a dwelling, business premises, or occupied vehicle against his or her will.

(b) The individual using deadly force or force other than deadly force honestly and reasonably believes that the individual is engaging in conduct described in subdivision (a).

(2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if any of the following circumstances exist:

(a) The individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used, including an owner, lessee, or titleholder, has the legal right to be in the dwelling, business premises, or vehicle and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order, a probation order, or a parole order of no contact against that person.

(b) The individual removed or being removed from the dwelling, business premises, or occupied vehicle is a child or grandchild of, or is otherwise in the lawful custody of or under the lawful guardianship of, the individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used.

(c) The individual who uses deadly force or force other than deadly force is engaged in the commission of a crime or is using the dwelling, business premises, or occupied vehicle to further the commission of a crime.

(d) The individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used is a peace officer who has entered or is attempting to enter a dwelling, business premises, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties in accordance with applicable law.

(e) The individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used is the spouse or former spouse of the individual using deadly force or force other than deadly force, an individual with whom the individual using deadly force or other than deadly force has or had a dating relationship, an individual with whom the individual using deadly force or other than deadly force has had a child in common, or a resident or former resident of his or her household, and the individual using deadly force or other than deadly force has a prior history of domestic violence as the aggressor.

(3) As used in this section:

(…)

(b) “Business premises” means a building or other structure used for the transaction of business, including an appurtenant structure attached to that building or other structure.

(c) “Dwelling” means a structure or shelter that is used permanently or temporarily as a place of abode, including an appurtenant structure attached to that structure or shelter.

(…)

(f) “Peace officer” means any of the following:

(i) A regularly employed member of a law enforcement agency authorized and established pursuant to law, including common law, who is responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the enforcement of the general criminal laws of this state. Peace officer does not include a person serving solely because he or she occupies any other office or position.

(ii) A law enforcement officer of a Michigan Indian tribal police force.

(…)

(g) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, that is designed to transport people or property.


780.961 Use of deadly force or force other than deadly force; establishing evidence that individual’s actions not justified.

Sec. 1.

(1) An individual who uses deadly force or force other than deadly force in compliance with section 2 of the self-defense act and who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses that deadly force or force other than deadly force commits no crime in using that deadly force or force other than deadly force.

(2) If a prosecutor believes that an individual used deadly force or force other than deadly force that is unjustified under section 2 of the self-defense act, the prosecutor may charge the individual with a crime arising from that use of deadly force or force other than deadly force and shall present evidence to the judge or magistrate at the time of warrant issuance, at the time of any preliminary examination, and at the time of any trial establishing that the individual’s actions were not justified under section 2 of the self-defense act.


780.972 Use of deadly force by individual not engaged in commission of crime; conditions.

Sec. 2.

(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.


780.973 Duty to retreat; effect of act on common law.

Sec. 3.

Except as provided in section 2, this act does not modify the common law of this state in existence on October 1, 2006 regarding the duty to retreat before using deadly force or force other than deadly force.


780.974 Right to use deadly force; effect of act on common law.

Sec. 4.

This act does not diminish an individual’s right to use deadly force or force other than deadly force in self-defense or defense of another individual as provided by the common law of this state in existence on October 1, 2006.

1 thought on “Castle Doctrine Law: Michigan”

  1. Laws like these become a problem themselves. Most people are ignorant of our laws. Assuming they are in place to protect us. Facts show otherwise. It is the way they are worded. Using words and phrases that can and often will be misunderstood. Remember, they are a tool that grants power to government over you the citizen. Look closely and see that it is created to make their job easier. We need to have new standards on how our laws are written. We must create a dictionary of the words lawmakers must use in writing laws. the words shall consist of words with single meaning that can’t be used by any “redefining” or reinterpretation. Each law shall have an explanation of intent. the definition shall not be redefined by any court action or ruling. Each law shall be of single scope covering one violation without reference or application to or from any other laws. If different levels of violations can be applied clear-cut definitions shall be defined and provided on how the laws shall be applied. We the people provide the power to prosecute. We are not granting an easy way or shortcuts to convict a citizen. Complicated and multi-layered laws that can be interpreted to fit the crimes they decide exist must stop. the goals of these laws are two fold. expanding power and control, and creating the felons that prevent the use of firearms to defend oneself and family. sorry I went off subject but government has made life very complicated for us. We must control government. Our founders original intent. thanks for reading my post.—Grampa

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