Law Blog

How Does Self Defense Work?

What is “self defense”?

Many times when we meet a client who is charged with an assaultive crime, they try to explain why they believe they should be acquitted because they were acting in self defense.  While that may be true in “the real world”, it is generally not true under the legal definition of self defense.  The legal meaning of self defense is very precise and often the tiniest deviation from the technical legal meaning can make the defense invalid.  Depending on the type of crime you have been charged with, your ability to argue self defense can change, so make sure you consult with one a top criminal defense attorney in Michigan before deciding on a defense.

How does “self defense” work?

In order for your defense attorney to make a valid claim of self defense in your behalf, there are several things that must occur.

1) you CANNOT be engaged in the commission of a crime and claim self defense.
That means that if you break into someone’s home and they attack you and you injure them, you cannot claim self defense.  More commonly is the scenario where a client is engaged in the possession of sales of narcotics and they are attacked and they fight back; again, not a valid claim of self defense.

2) you CANNOT be the aggressor and claim self defense.
If you start a fight, you cannot claim self defense.  Even if you commit an assault the other person steps up the violence/aggression and commits a felonious assault against you, and you in turn commit an assault with intent to do great bodily harm against them, you cannot claim self defense as to your GBH because you were the aggressor.

3) you CANNOT use overly aggressive force.
You cannot kill someone because they punch you in the stomach.  The force you use must be only that which is necessary to repel the force which you are facing.  If you have a “reasonable belief” that you or another person are at risk of losing your life OR face the threat of great bodily harm, you may use deadly force in defending yourself.  But if the threat of force is less than that, the force you use in your defense cannot be deadly.

Can I use “self defense” in my case?

This is only a basic overview of self defense law in Michigan.  In order to determine whether or not you can use the defense of self defense in your case, contact a top defense attorney in Detroit as Nessel and Kessel Law.  Dana Nessel and Chris Kessel have the experience and the proven track record of getting justice for their clients.  At Nessel and Kessel Law, we know how to make a jury see that you were the victim of a crime, not the other way around.




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