Will I Go to Jail for Self-Defense?

If you believe you will face assault and battery charges in Michigan for defending yourself through the use of non-deadly force, a conviction would depend on the circumstances of the incident.

In Michigan, anyone is allowed to use non-lethal force against another person in any location where he/she has the legal right to be, if he/she has reason to believe such force is required to defend himself/herself—or another person—from another person’s imminent unlawful use of force. Additionally, since there is no duty to retreat, a person using self-defense does not need to initially avoid the aggressor before using non-deadly force.

Even if you hit someone first, it is still possible to claim self-defense. For example, you and another motorist engage in an argument after being involved in a car accident. The argument reaches a boiling point, and the other driver suddenly raises his arm and forms a fist with his hand. Thinking that the other person is going to strike you, you quickly throw a punch and knock the other driver down before the police arrive. Because you do not have to wait to get assaulted before protecting yourself, state self-defense laws apply in this situation.

On the other hand, the following are several reasons why you can go to jail despite claiming self-defense:

  • You are the aggressor – Let’s say someone insults you and—in retaliation—you punch or attempted to punch that person in the face. If the insulter didn’t threaten great bodily injury, he/she is legally justified in using non-deadly force to protect himself/herself. Even if you have a hunch someone will hit you, using force in self-defense is not a valid reason.
  • You use deadly force – When you use self-defense, the degree of force must mirror the level of perceived threat. In other words, only a proportional response is allowed to make a self-defense claim. This means that if someone punches you, you are prohibited from pulling out a gun and shooting the other person. However, the use of deadly force is permitted in Michigan if you believe such force is necessary to prevent imminent death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault of yourself or another person.
  • Imperfect self-defense – Similar to the reason above, this often applies when someone kills another individual out of a genuine fear of immediate physical harm. However, an objective person may not believe the fear is reasonable. Although this defense may leave you vulnerable to criminal charges, it may result in a reduced charge or lighter penalties.

In the event of an arrest for assault and battery, our Michigan criminal defense attorney at Prain Law, PLLC is dedicated to protecting your rights and future. If you believe you have a valid reason to use self-defense, we can investigate your arrest, collect evidence, and build an effective defense strategy to either have your entire case dismissed or your penalties reduced.

Contact us and schedule a consultation for more information today.

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