Castle Doctrine

The laws governing the legal use, storage, carrying and transporting of firearms are constantly changing. Below are the applicable laws in the State of Michigan as of 9/28/2013. The below information is designed to be a guide and not the final word. If you have specific questions, please refer to Michigan Legislation at legislature.mi.gov.  If you have any specific questions concerning Castle Doctrine/Self-Defense laws in any state, American Firearms Training recommends contacting an attorney.

The Castle Doctrine (also known as Castle Law, Defense of Habitat Law) are state legal defense laws that gives citizens in their homes/abode, and in some states, cars or workplaces the right to protect themselves, other people, and their property by force. In some instances this includes deadly force without the consequences of legal or possibly civil responsibility and criminal persecution. A Castle Doctrine also states that a person has no “duty of retreat” (avoid the conflict at all cost) when one’s home/abode is under attack.

Some states will include in their Castle Law a “Stand Your Ground” clause. This clause removes the “duty of retreat” even outside of one’s home (car, work, where one is allowed to be and possess a firearm).

The State of Michigan does have a Castle Law and a "Stand Your Ground" clause variation.  These and other self-defense laws can be viewed below.

780.951 Individual using deadly force or force other than deadly force; presumption; definitions, Sec. 1.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), it is a rebuttable presumption in a civil or criminal case that an individual who uses deadly force or force other than deadly force under section 2 of the self-defense act has an honest and reasonable belief that imminent death of, sexual assault of, or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another individual will occur if both of the following apply:

(a) The individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used is in the process of breaking and entering a dwelling or business premises or committing home invasion or has broken and entered a dwelling or business premises or committed home invasion and is still present in the dwelling or business premises, or is unlawfully attempting to remove another individual from a dwelling, business premises, or occupied vehicle against his or her will.

(b) The individual using deadly force or force other than deadly force honestly and reasonably believes that the individual is engaging in conduct described in subdivision (a).

(2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if any of the following circumstances exist:

(a) The individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used, including an owner, lessee, or titleholder, has the legal right to be in the dwelling, business premises, or vehicle and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order, a probation order, or a parole order of no contact against that person.

(b) The individual removed or being removed from the dwelling, business premises, or occupied vehicle is a child or grandchild of, or is otherwise in the lawful custody of or under the lawful guardianship of, the individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used.

(c) The individual who uses deadly force or force other than deadly force is engaged in the commission of a crime or is using the dwelling, business premises, or occupied vehicle to further the commission of a crime.

(d) The individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used is a peace officer who has entered or is attempting to enter a dwelling, business premises, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties in accordance with applicable law.

(e) The individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used is the spouse or former spouse of the individual using deadly force or force other than deadly force, an individual with whom the individual using deadly force or other than deadly force has or had a dating relationship, an individual with whom the individual using deadly force or other than deadly force has had a child in common, or a resident or former resident of his or her household, and the individual using deadly force or other than deadly force has a prior history of domestic violence as the aggressor.

(3) As used in this section:

(a) "Domestic violence" means that term as defined in section 1 of 1978 PA 389, MCL 400.1501.

(b) "Business premises" means a building or other structure used for the transaction of business, including an appurtenant structure attached to that building or other structure.

(c) "Dwelling" means a structure or shelter that is used permanently or temporarily as a place of abode, including an appurtenant structure attached to that structure or shelter.

(d) "Law enforcement officer of a Michigan Indian tribal police force" means a regularly employed member of a police force of a Michigan Indian tribe who is appointed pursuant to former 25 CFR 12.100 to 12.103.

(e) "Michigan Indian tribe" means a federally recognized Indian tribe that has trust lands located within this state.

(f) "Peace officer" means any of the following:

(i) A regularly employed member of a law enforcement agency authorized and established pursuant to law, including common law, who is responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the enforcement of the general criminal laws of this state. Peace officer does not include a person serving solely because he or she occupies any other office or position.

(ii) A law enforcement officer of a Michigan Indian tribal police force.

(iii) The sergeant at arms or any assistant sergeant at arms of either house of the legislature who is commissioned as a police officer by that respective house of the legislature as provided by the legislative sergeant at arms police powers act, 2001 PA 185, MCL 4.381 to 4.382.

(iv) A law enforcement officer of a multicounty metropolitan district.

(v) A county prosecuting attorney's investigator sworn and fully empowered by the sheriff of that county.

(vi) Until December 31, 2007, a law enforcement officer of a school district in this state that has a membership of at least 20,000 pupils and that includes in its territory a city with a population of at least 180,000 as of the most recent federal decennial census.

(vii) A fire arson investigator from a fire department within a city with a population of not less than 750,000 who is sworn and fully empowered by the city chief of police.

(viii) A security employee employed by the state pursuant to section 6c of 1935 PA 59, MCL 28.6c.

(ix) A motor carrier officer appointed pursuant to section 6d of 1935 PA 59, MCL 28.6d.

(x) A police officer or public safety officer of a community college, college, or university who is authorized by the governing board of that community college, college, or university to enforce state law and the rules and ordinances of that community college, college, or university.

(g) "Vehicle" means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, that is designed to transport people or property.

780.961 Use of deadly force or force other than deadly force; establishing evidence that individual's actions not justified. Sec. 1.

(1) An individual who uses deadly force or force other than deadly force in compliance with section 2 of the self-defense act and who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses that deadly force or force other than deadly force commits no crime in using that deadly force or force other than deadly force.

(2) If a prosecutor believes that an individual used deadly force or force other than deadly force that is unjustified under section 2 of the self-defense act, the prosecutor may charge the individual with a crime arising from that use of deadly force or force other than deadly force and shall present evidence to the judge or magistrate at the time of warrant issuance, at the time of any preliminary examination, and at the time of any trial establishing that the individual's actions were not justified under section 2 of the self-defense act.

780.972 Use of deadly force by individual not engaged in commission of crime; conditions, Sec. 2.

(1) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if either of the following applies:

(a) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.

(b) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent sexual assault of himself or herself or of another individual.

(2) An 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.

780.973 Duty to retreat; effect of act on common law, Sec. 3.

Except as provided in section 2, this act does not modify the common law of this state in existence on October 1, 2006 regarding the duty to retreat before using deadly force or force other than deadly force.

780.974 Right to use deadly force; effect of act on common law, Sec. 4.

This act does not diminish an individual's right to use deadly force or force other than deadly force in self-defense or defense of another individual as provided by the common law of this state in existence on October 1, 2006.

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