While the national protests have calmed down, protests in Michigan continue sporadically. In some cases, these protests can be right outside your front door. Here’s what Michigan Independent Program Attorneys had to say…
What Are Your Rights in These Situations?
In Michigan, you may only use force or deadly force if you believe the threat to your safety is imminent, meaning happening right now. This means that the mere existence of protesters, even loud and obnoxious protesters, is not in itself a justifiable reason to use or threaten to use deadly force. In order to be justified under the law, protesters would need to make you afraid that you or another person is about to be killed, seriously injured, or sexually assaulted. This fear must be reasonable and based on an imminent threat, therefore a future or conditional, non-imminent threat is not enough.
Can I Use Force to Defend My Property?
When looking at Michigan’s self-defense laws, the first thing to know is that the law only provides a defense when protecting people. It is never lawful to use deadly or non-deadly force to protect property alone. Importantly, if protesters are merely trespassing on your property you are not allowed to use force or deadly force against them, even if they are damaging your property. If you see this happening, your best bet is to retreat to a place of safety and call the police to intercede.
Can I Threaten Force?
You are also prohibited from threatening force, which would include pointing a gun at a protester or displaying your firearm in a manner that suggests you are ready to use it. Depending on the circumstances, doing so could make your liable for either brandishing or assault. Remember that the police are going to be very careful in their investigation of reported incidents and may not see things as you see them. You do not want to end up being the one charged as a result of taking the matter into your own hands.
However, if the protesters do something that would otherwise make a reasonable person afraid that they will be assaulted or severely injured (i.e. you are in fear of serious bodily injury, sexual assault, or death), then you may use deadly force to protect yourself or your loved ones.
For any questions about when you are justified in acting in self-defense in Michigan, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.