We have spoken before in this blog about the concept of self-defense. It is a legal defense that may be available to a person charged with violent crimes such as murder and manslaughter. The principle behind self-defense is that we all have the right to do what is necessary to protect ourselves from mortal danger.
Traditionally, in order to successfully invoke self-defense, a defendant generally had to show that escaping the threat of imminent physical harm was not possible. But like several other states, Michigan has a law that expands the right to self-defense. Known as a “stand-your-ground” law, it removes the requirement to seek retreat as the first option. Instead, someone can use deadly force against another individual as long as:
- the first person is not committing a crime,
- is somewhere they are legally allowed to be, and
- believes deadly force is the only option for defending him- or herself.
Stand your ground laws are controversial, and in Michigan, a lawmaker has introduced a bill to repeal the local version, Michigan Radio reports. State Sen. Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor believes the law provides too much legal protection for people involved in gun violence. Her bill would not change the state’s “castle doctrine” law, which creates an exception to the retreat requirement when someone uses deadly force against an individual who has broken into his or her home.
If it passes, this bill would significantly affect the rights of many Michigan residents accused of a violent crime, by making self-defense more difficult to claim. However, other affirmative defenses may be available to a particular criminal defendant, depending on the evidence.