Michigan Self Defense Laws

A woman with her two young children in the back seat pulls into a gas station in an unfamiliar part of Detroit for a fill-up. But right when she opens her door to get out, a man wearing a ski mask swings a heavy club at her in what she immediately perceives as an attempted carjacking. Within a matter of seconds, she manages to get a hold of the .44 revolver she keeps in the glove compartment and fires three shots at the attacker. He falls down dead next to the car, the kids screaming in horror but safe from harm.

She's not denying that she killed an individual, but her actions would most certainly be construed as self defense under Michigan law. While some state self defense laws have what is known as a "duty to retreat," that's not the case in Michigan. In the above scenario, the women acted out of fear of either great bodily harm or death not only to herself for to her children as well.

There is no duty to retreat (i.e. run or otherwise evade the attacker when it's an option) in Michigan as it has what are often referred to as "stand your ground" laws.

Michigan Self Defense Laws: The Basics

The main points of Michigan's self defense laws are listed below.

Statutes

Statutory Definition: Presumption Regarding Self Defense

In a civil or criminal case, an individual who uses force (including deadly force) out of a 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:

  1. The individual against whom force is used is in the process of breaking and entering a home or business (or still present after this has occurred); committing a home invasion; unlawfully attempting to take someone from a home or business; or has occupied one's vehicle against their will.
  2. The individual using force honestly and reasonably believes that the individual is engaging in conduct described above.

Use of Deadly Force in Self Defense

An individual 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:

  • 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; or
  • 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.

Use of Non-Deadly Force in Self Defense

An individual 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.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Michigan Self Defense Laws: Related Resources

Have You Acted in Self Defense? An Attorney Can Help You

If you have injured or even killed another individual because you feared for your life, you may have a strong case for self defense. But with any use of violence, the devil's in the details; so you will want an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Get help today by contacting a Michigan criminal defense attorney near you.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.