How can we help?
(248) 602-2799

Determining Reasonable Conduct in Michigan Courts 

When assessing whether deadly force is necessary or not, the law might ask whether a reasonable person would have used that amount of force. In determining what is honest and reasonable, the law often uses a standard known as the reasonable person standard to evaluate a person’s conduct. It uses a hypothetical reasonable person. One might question what constitutes a reasonable person, and question how they might behave. Ultimately, the jury is responsible for determining reasonable conduct in Michigan courts. Contact a determined gun lawyer that can attempt to show that you behaved as a reasonable person, and used justifiable force.

Precedent For the Reasonable Person Standard

Reading all of the case precedents together, the reasonable person definition suggests that a so-called reasonable person resembles an individual in the community who has a judgment similar to the typical member of the community when presented with the particular facts or circumstances.

However, the precedent for a reasonable person standard is not set forth in any case. The best example in Michigan is the case of Radtke v. Everett, 442 Mich. 368, 390–391, 501 N.W.2d 155 (1993), which describes the standard as a standard that has been carefully crafted to formulate one standard of conduct for society.

The standard of conduct which the community demands must be an external and objective one, rather than the individual judgment, good or bad, of the particular actor; and it must be, so far as possible, the same for all persons, since the law can have no favorites. It is this uniformity, that can be extremely helpful in determining reasonable conduct in Michigan courts.

Painting a Portrait of the Reasonable Person

The courts have gone to unusual pains to emphasize the abstract and hypothetical character of this mythical person. They are not to be identified with any ordinary individual, who might occasionally do unreasonable things; they are a prudent and careful person, who is always up to standard.

They are rather a personification of a community ideal of reasonable behavior, determined by the jury’s social judgment. The chief advantage of this standard is that it enables triers of fact to look to a community standard rather than an individual one, and at the same time to express their judgment of what that standard is in terms of the conduct of a human being.

How the Reasonable Person Standard Helps

Furthermore, the reasonable person standard examines the totality of the circumstances to ensure a fair result. Hence, the reasonable person standard is sufficiently flexible to incorporate gender as one factor, without destroying the vital stability provided by uniform standards of conduct.

Justice Taylor approvingly cited this passage in his concurring statement in Sidorowicz v. Chicken Shack, Inc., 469 Mich. 912, 673 N.W.2d 106 (2003). Taking all of this and simplifying it, the legal analysis behind the reasonable person goes like this: if a person used force or even deadly force, they must act like a reasonable person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances in order to be legally justified.

However, if a person fails to act like a reasonable person, their conduct will fall below the acceptable legal standard and will not be justified. The reasonable person standard is the law’s attempt to make the concept of reasonableness an objective and measurable test. If an individual wants to know more about determining reasonable conduct in Michigan court, they should consult an experienced gun attorney that can help.