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Arguing Self-Defense for Force and Threats of Force in Michigan

One of the main reasons people are allowed to carry weapons is for safety. Sometimes you may feel threatened and use or threaten to use force, in order to protect yourself. However, the unreasonable use of force is a criminal act. If you have been charged with using force and want to know more about arguing self-defense for force and threats of force in Michigan, speak with an experienced gun lawyer. Your attorney can examine your case and work to find a defense strategy tailored to your case.

Michigan Self-Defense Act

Michigan’s Self-Defense Act, which is Act 309 of 2006, and set forth in MCL §§ 780.971 through 780.974, provides that if a person threatens deadly force by the production of a weapon, the display or use of the weapon is not unlawful so long as the person honestly and reasonably believed in an imminent death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault.

If the use of deadly force is allowable, then it follows that the threat to use deadly force is also legal, provided the person’s only purpose is to create an apprehension that they will use deadly force, if necessary.

By defining the action of the producing a weapon to create apprehension, in the context of Michigan’s self-defense law which may allow the use of that weapon, a person could be legally justified to produce a weapon to create apprehension when the use of deadly force was legally justified.

How Are Self-Defense Claims Prosecuted in Michigan?

The prosecution has the burden of disproving self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. This means the burden is not with the defendant to prove a self-defense claim. If the defendant can establish that he is entitled to raise a self-defense, then he is also entitled to have the judge instruct the jury that they may find them not guilty if they find that the person was justified in their actions.

The jury will then decide whether the prosecutor disproved this defense (i.e. that the defendant was in fear of suffering great bodily harm) beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defendant’s conduct, in this regard, is judged according to how the circumstances appeared to them at the time they acted.  However, that if the attack took place outside, the defendant would not be protected by the presumptions contained in Michigan’s penal code, § 780.951.

What Constitutes a Justified Use of Force?

When arguing self-defense for force and threats of force in Michigan, then they are first required to admit all the elements of the crime for which they are charged. In other words, a person cannot deny committing the crime while simultaneously claiming self-defense.

Then, in order for the jury to consider a legal justification defense (i.e., receive a self-defense jury instruction from the judge), there must be evidence that the defendant honestly and reasonably believed they were about to be attacked, and that death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault would be the result.

However, an individual does not have to prove that they acted in self-defense. Instead, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual did not act in self-defense. This is one reason that self-defense, when available, can be such a powerful way to avoid a conviction when deadly force is used.

Threats of Force

Michigan law does not specifically address threats of force and simply making a threat should not be illegal. However, if a person threatens force or deadly force, and has the ability to carry out that threat, then they may be guilty of assault.

This is especially true if the person’s words would cause a reasonable person to fear or apprehend an immediate battery. If an individual is legally justified to use force in any situation, then they may also legally threaten to use force in the same situation.

When arguing self-defense for force and threats of force in Michigan, it is also important that the person makes sure that they are justified in doing so. Likewise, if a person is justified in using deadly force in a situation, they may legally threaten the use of deadly force in the same situation.