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Self-defense in Michigan brought back into spotlight following Byron Township case

Posted at 9:35 AM, Apr 01, 2022

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — A Byron Township shooting incident has FOX 17 looking into the topic of self-defense. Many wonder if what that man did is legal and what is allowed to do to keep safe.

Michigan's Self-Defense Act allows individuals to use deadly force if they believe it is necessary to prevent death, great bodily harm or sexual assault.

However, attorneys say you should be confident of what's going on before pulling the trigger.

"If they honestly and reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to prevent something terrible happening from them, imminent death, serious bodily harm, sexual assault... if you believe that any of those things are happening, you have the right to defend yourself," Levine and Levine Criminal Defense Lawyer Sarissa Montague told FOX 17.

She says as a lawyer, she's represented cases similar to the one in Byron Township before.

"The 'stand your ground' is a little bit different because it really requires that the offense happen most often in your house," she added.

Montague says this doesn't mean you can shoot someone if they come on your property.

"If somebody is coming onto your land to deliver, you know, flowers... And I think you'd have a hard time arguing that you can shoot and kill them because you're not really in fear of imminent death under those circumstances," Montague said.

Still, even if you might think defending yourself is cut and dry, it isn't in the eyes of the law. Detectives are always going to look at all angles of any case.

"Law enforcement is engaging in the investigation, will submit a report to the prosecutor's office in that county, and the prosecutor's office will decide whether or not to issue charges. They have a ton of discretion about what they choose to issue and what they don't," she added.

Montague says if prosecutors do choose to pursue charges, self-defense is a possible option for the defense in this case.

Read Michigan's 2006 Self-Defense Act.

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