Though Michigan law punishes assault, manslaughter and other violent crimes very severely, it also recognizes that there are situations where violence is necessary. One such context is when the person accused of a violent crime had to use force to protect him- or herself from getting injured or killed by an attacker.
This is commonly known as self defense, and it is a valid defense to many criminal charges. Michigan’s self-defense statute allows individuals to use deadly force against someone else without being convicted of a crime, if the following applied to the situation:
- The person was not committing a crime at the time, and had the legal right to be where the incident occurred
- The person honestly and reasonably believed at the time that deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault against themselves or another individual
This defense against violent crime charges applied to a recent trial, in which an Ease Lansing man was charged with shooting the mother of his daughter during a custody exchange in a gas station parking lot. Prosecutors charged him with assault with intent to murder and a felony firearms violation.
During trial, the defendant’s attorney argued that he acted in self-defense. She presented evidence that the mother stabbed the defendant, and that he shot her in the hand and top of the skull to defend himself. A knife was found at the scene.
After trial concluded, the jury found the defendant not guilty due to self-defense. The prosecutor acknowledged that the jury was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant should be sent to prison.