Self defense and Assault and Battery in Michigan

I am a Michigan Assault and Battery lawyer.  I defend those accused of Assault and Battery (sometimes called "A&B") and other Assault charges in our courts on a daily basis.  If you are charged with AssaultAssault and BatteryAggravated Assault, or one of the many forms of Felonious Assault, you've probably contemplated whether or not you could invoke the legal theory of Self Defense to help get you off the hook.  Well, I'm going to explain how it works.  This may surprise you (in a good way), but . .

Self Defense is applicable in more situations than people charged with these assaultive crimes tend to believe at first.  What is even better is that when a Judge or Jury finds that the legal defense of Self Defense does properly apply, you are entitled to be found Not Guilty!  And even if you don't take your case to Trial, a qualified Michigan Assault and Battery lawyer can present the case to a Prosecutor in a light that shows the Prosecutors a high likelihood that Self Defense will apply, which encourages the best possible plea and helps avoid Jail.

Not many people know, but Michigan actually has a "Self-Defense Act," MCL 780.971, et seq. (think . . . recent Trevon Martin case and Florida's special law), and it reads exactly as follows with regard to the use of non-deadly force in Self Defense:

"[a]n individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses force other than deadly force may use force other than deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if he or she honestly and reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual."

Throughout the years, Michigan case law that has developed around the Self-Defense Act and the common law of Self Defense, has greatly expanded and profoundly complicated the scenarios when you can and cannot actually claim Self Defense.  A good Michigan Assault and Battery attorney understands all of the finer details.  I can't go into the details here, but I will attempt to give you a brief, simplified summary of what those cases, taken together, mean for Self Defense.  Here are the general principles:

  1. You have the right to use force to defend yourself under certain circumstances.  If you act in lawful Self-Defense or Defense of Others, you actions are justified, and you are not guilty of the Assault, Assault and Battery, Aggravated Assault, or Felony Assault you're charged with.
  2. Your conduct will be judged according to how the circumstances appeared to you at the time of the instant of the incident.
  3. At the time of the incident, you must not have been engaged in the commission of a crime (i.e. unlawful entry into the home or building of another, etc.)
  4. You must have honestly and reasonably believed that you had to use force to protect yourself from the imminent unlawful use of force by another.  If a Judge or Jury finds that your belief was honest and reasonable, it means you were allowed to act at right away to defend yourself.  You DON'T have to wait until the other person touches you, grabs you, or hits you to hit them.  This is true even if it turns out later that you were wrong about how much danger you were in.
  5. You are only allowed to use the degree of force that seems necessary at the time to protect yourself from danger.  You must have used the kind of force that was appropriate to the attack made and the circumstances as you saw them. When the Judge or Jury decides whether the force you used was what seemed necessary, they will consider whether you knew about any other ways of protecting yourself, but they are also allowed to consider how the excitement of the moment affected the choice you made.  As the Michigan Supreme Court once stated, "a person in a state of excitement cannot be expected to make fine distinctions as to the extent of injuries likely to be inflicted and, thus, the amount of force needed for self-defense."
  6. The right to defend yourself lasts only as long as it seems necessary for the purpose of protection.  
  7. You must not have acted wrongfully in the first place to bring about the Assault.

Finally, you must contact The Law Office of Brian J. Prain, PLLC, the Michigan Assault and Battery attorney.  Okay, the law doesn't really say that!  But if you are facing a Michigan AssaultAssault and BatteryAggravated Assault, or one of the various types of Felony Assault charges, you owe it to yourself to call or e-mail us confidentially to set up a free consultation immediately.

HINT: Here is a quick screening test you can do when you call someone advertising online to be a Michigan Assault and Battery Lawyer: ask them if they are aware of the Michigan Self-Defense Act and where to find it.  If the answer is anything short of "yes, MCL 780.971," you might want to reconsider putting your freedom and your future in their hands.  And remember, the best work begins right away. . .   


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