Stand Your Ground: How Michigan’s Self-Defense Law Works

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In the state of Michigan, those placed in harm’s way often have the right to defend themselves with the use of force. This law is known as a “stand your ground” law, and it exists in several other states to protect residents from lethal or nonlethal harm.


The law states that if you have an honest and reasonable belief that you or another individual has been placed in imminent danger of death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault, you may use deadly force to protect yourself — and you have no “duty to retreat.” 


This means you can keep going until you feel safe again, with no regard for the offender’s physical well-being.

Deadly vs. Non-Deadly Force

When placed in harm’s way, you can choose to defend yourself with deadly or non-deadly force.


Deadly force is reserved for fear of imminent death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault. Non-deadly force should be used in situations where you believe you will be harmed, but not to such a strong extent.


For example, if someone is pointing a gun at your head, the law gives you the right to defend yourself with lethal force. If someone claims they have a gun and intend to shoot you, the law gives you the right to defend yourself with lethal force.


But if someone repeatedly slaps you across the face, the law doesn’t give you the right to use lethal force. You have the right to defend yourself, but you don’t have the right to kill your attacker.

Determining Eligibility

In order to be eligible for self-defense, you must be able to prove the following things:


  • You were not engaged in a crime at the time of your defense; 
  • You were somewhere you were legally allowed to be; and
  • You felt the level of force used was the only way to defend yourself or someone else.


If you are not sure you meet these eligibility requirements and want to talk to an experienced and professional lawyer, then it is important to meet with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Stand Your Ground vs. Castle Doctrine

Often, when people discuss “stand your ground” laws, they refer to situations in which homeowners find intruders on their property and have the right to use lethal force regardless of intention.


This is actually known as the “castle doctrine” and has separate rules with a much narrower scope. Consult with a criminal defense attorney if you believe you took advantage of this law but are not sure how to defend your actions.


Michigan’s self-defense law is much broader and can take place both at home and away from home. It also doesn’t give you the right to assume anything. If the offender was killed, you must prove that deadly force was necessary to defend yourself.

What Comes Next

Once you’ve used serious or deadly force under the self-defense law, you’ll likely need to defend your decisions in court. You should never do this without an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side, ensuring that you bring the right evidence, file the right paperwork, and properly organize your case.

Contact an Experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney for Representation

There is nothing more frightening than being placed in a situation where you believe your life could be at risk. If you’ve taken advantage of Michigan’s self-defense law and require representation, contact our team of criminal defense professionals at Dallo Law in Oakland County by calling (248) 283-7000.

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