A Review of Michigan’s Castle Doctrine and No-Retreat Legislation
Self-defense bills became law in October 2006.
Lansing, MI --(AmmoLand.com)- Each of these Bills provide rather specific circumstances and protections which, taken as a whole, provide strong protection for a person who is forced to defend himself from criminal attack (which here means grievous bodily injury, rape, or death).
- PA 311 provides a “rebuttable presumption” in a civil or criminal case that a person who defends himself believes that criminal attack is threatened if (1) he is in a dwelling or business, or (2) the criminal is attempting to remove someone from a dwelling, business, or vehicle. This does not apply if the alleged criminal has a legal right to be in the dwelling or business, or if the person defending himself is committing a crime, or if the person entering is a law enforcement officer in the course of his duties.
- PA 310 states that a prosecutor may still charge a person who has defended himself if the prosecutor can present to the court evidence that the person did not believe he was threatened with criminal attack. This represents a substantial change from the prior law which puts the burden of proof on the person defending himself to show that he did believe he was subject to criminal attack.
- PA 309 says that if a person is anywhere he has a legal right to be, he has no duty to retreat if he believe he is threatened by criminal attack. Note that this differs from the home/business situation where it is presumed that he believes he is subject to criminal attack.
- PA 313 is subtle: “Sec. 21c. (1) In cases in which section 2 of the self-defense act does not apply, the common law of this state applies except that the duty to retreat before using deadly force is not required if an individual is in his or her own dwelling or within the curtilage of that dwelling.”
- PA 314 states that a person who defends himself (or in defense of another individual) with deadly force or less than deadly force anywhere he has a right to be is immune from civil liability for damages.
- PA 312 provides attorney fees to a defendant if a civil suit is filed and the court determines that the defendant is immune from civil liability under PA 314.
Castle Doctrine in the rest of the US
A Castle Doctrine (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal concept derived from English Common Law, which designates one’s place of residence (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as one’s car or place of work) as a place in which one enjoys protection from illegal trespassing and violent attack. It then goes on to give a person the legal right to use deadly force to defend that place (his/her “castle”), and/or any other innocent persons legally inside it, from violent attack or an intrusion which may lead to violent attack. In a legal context, therefore, use of deadly force which actually results in death may be defended as justifiable homicide under the Castle Doctrine.
Castle Doctrines are legislated by state, and not all states in the US have a Castle Doctrine. The term “Make My Day Law” comes from the landmark 1985 Colorado statute that protects people from any criminal charge or civil suit if they use force – including deadly force – against an invader of the home. The law’s nickname is a reference to the famous line uttered by Clint Eastwood’s character Dirty Harry in the 1983 film Sudden Impact, “Go ahead, make my day.”
This legal doctrine is often linked to the rights of homeowners to bear arms, as defined in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller.
States with a Castle Law and/or a stand-your-ground provision include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho*, Illinois*, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana*, New Jersey, New York*, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania*, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota*, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
(* denotes states with weak Castle Law )
States with no known Castle Law: Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia, District of Columbia — source wikipedia.org
The Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. Formed from just eight people in 1996, we now have thousands of members and numerous affiliated clubs across the state. We’re growing larger and more effective every day.
Our mission statement is: “Promoting safe use and ownership of firearms through education, litigation, and legislation” Visit: www.mcrgo.org