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The legal use of deadly force

There may come a time in an individual’s life when they are confronted by someone with physical aggression. Though the individual may know that what is happening to them is illegal, they might be hesitant to strike back out of fear for legal repercussions. This is understandable, as many of us are well aware of the long arm of the law. However, the state of Michigan recognizes self-defense as a legitimate defense, which allows an individual, under certain circumstances, to take drastic measures to protect their life, or the life of another, without fear of legal consequences.

According to the law, an individual can use deadly force against another if they reasonably believe that it is necessary to stop imminent death, great bodily injury or sexual assault of themselves or another. The law further states that the individual does not have a duty to retreat first, so long as they are in a place where they are legally allowed to be.

The law does have some restrictions. For example, this defense can only be used if the individual was not engaged in a criminal activity at the time of the incident. Additionally, it is important to note that the defense is only legitimate if the use of deadly force was based on a “reasonable” belief that imminent death, great bodily injury or sexual assault was about to occur. This is a contentious point, as the definition of reasonable can be difficult to hammer down.

Those who have been forced to use deadly measures to protect themselves or others may still wind up facing allegations of criminal wrongdoing. It is only once the judge and jury hear the defense that an acquittal may be obtained. This is why it is critical to put forth a clear and strong defense. An attorney can often help develop a criminal defense strategy that seeks to put the defendant in a favorable position.

Source: Michigan Legislature, “Section 780.972,” accessed on Oct. 23, 2015

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