Stand Your Ground / Self-Defense Laws in Michigan

Michigan is a state with a stalwart stand-your-ground law on the books. Michigan provides a justification for citizens to use lethal force in defense of themselves or someone else with no obligation to retreat, so long as they are in any place they have a right to be, in their home or business, or occupying a vehicle and facing a threat of death or great bodily injury.

Michigan also provides a justification for the use of lethal force in order to stop certain forcible felonies, but the wording of the statute limits the use of force in such situations two instances where death or great bodily injury are presumed to occur.

flag of Michigan

Generally speaking, this will not be a problem for the vast majority of civilian defenders in the state of Michigan, since home invasion, carjacking and kidnapping attempts are all inherently assumed to be lethal threats under Michigan law, meaning citizens may stand their ground and protect their lives wherever they may be when these attacks occur.

We will provide you with a summary of the most important points concerning Michigan stand-your-ground laws below along with the relevant statutes at the very end.

What You Need to Know

  • Michigan law provides justification for the use of lethal force in defense so long as the person employing the force is not the aggressor and fears for their life or the life of a 3rd party.
  • There is no duty to retreat in Michigan from any place a person has a lawful right to be.
  • Michigan justifies the use of lethal force to prevent the commission or imminent commission of a home invasion, carjacking or kidnapping in addition to any direct threat of death or great bodily injury.

General Provisions

In Michigan, an individual who uses deadly force commits no crime under state law so long as the person is not otherwise engaged in the commission of any crime at the time the deadly force is used.

Furthermore, the individual using the force has no duty to retreat or any other obligation to do so as long as they honestly and reasonably believe that the use of the deadly force is required to prevent the imminent death or imminent great bodily harm to themselves or to a third party, or is necessary to prevent the imminent sexual assault of themselves or a third party.

Additionally, Michigan law allows the use of deadly force to prevent the commission of certain forcible felonies, ones that are presumed to present a threat of death or great bodily injury to the would-be victim. Aside from the aforementioned sexual assault, home invasion, carjacking, and kidnapping also qualify.

Michigan law presumes that the person using deadly force does in fact have an honest and reasonable belief that death or great bodily harm is imminent so long as the person that the deadly force is used against, the assailant:

  • is in the process of breaking and entering a dwelling or business premises,
  • is in the process of committing a home invasion,
  • or is actually in the process attempting a kidnapping or carjacking and that, to the defender, the act was apparent and honestly believed by the defender.

Restrictions

It is worth noting that Michigan law allows the use of lethal force to stop certain forcible felonies, but not all felonies are out of hand, unless the commission of that felony involves the risk of death or great bodily injury to the assailant.

Since many forcible felonies inherently involve said risk, this might wind up just being semantics but it is worth mentioning since some states that have codified stand-your-ground laws in their statutes specifically mentioned that lethal force may be used to stop the commission of any felony, not just a forcible felony.

At any rate, so long as the fear of death or great bodily injury exists a defender has no duty to retreat, including during the commission of any of those forcible felonies listed in the Michigan state statutes.

Assessment

Michigan has some decidedly good laws on their books when it comes to self-defense, and their stand-your-ground laws, do not quite worded according to the standards of the day, are nonetheless sturdy and dependable. No citizen has an obligation to retreat imminent lethal threat, or from the commission of several violent felonies.

So long as you are acting within the bounds of the law prior to the initiation of the attack and are otherwise in any place you have a lawful right to be, you may stand your ground and face your aggressor.

Relevant Michigan Use of Force Statutes

Below you will find a selection of the most relevant use-of-force statutes in Michigan, including several that codify their stand-your-ground statutes.

Make sure you pay particular attention to the definitions as the language included therein will appear throughout the statutes in the chapter. Notably the definitions for dwelling, business premises and vehicle will further clarify the intent of several passages.

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.

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