Court Explains Claims of Self-Defense in Michigan Assault Cases

In Michigan, it is generally unlawful for someone to attack or threaten to harm another individual. In some instances, however, the use of force may be justified. For example, if people accused of assault crimes can demonstrate that their actions were necessary for their own protection or the protection of others, they may be deemed not guilty. Recently, a Michigan court discussed what evidence is necessary to establish acts were taken in self-defense in a case in which the defendant appealed his assault and weapons convictions. If you are accused of unlawfully causing another person bodily harm, it is advisable to confer with a skillful Michigan criminal defense attorney to assess what arguments you may be able to set forth in your defense.

The Alleged Assault

Reportedly, the victim visited the restaurant where the defendant worked as a manager and attempted to order food but did not have any money. As such, the defendant refused to take his order. The victim and the defendant began arguing, and the defendant obtained a gun from the back office and pointed it at the victim. The victim then left the restaurant and picked up a brick which he admitted he was going to throw through the front window of the establishment.

Allegedly, the defendant went outside to confront the victim and fired shots in his direction, one of which struck the victim in the leg. The victim left and encountered police officers a few blocks away. The officers proceeded to arrest the defendant, who was charged with numerous counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and unlawful use of firearms. A jury found the defendant guilty as charged, and he appealed, arguing the prosecution failed to rebut his claim of self-defense.

Proving Actions Were Taken in Self-Defense

After reviewing the evidence of record, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction. The court explained that the State proved the defendant’s guilt with regard to the assault charges. Specifically, it demonstrated that he attempted to use force and violence against the victim with the intent to cause the victim great bodily harm.

The defendant did not dispute that there was adequate evidence to demonstrate the elements of the charged assault offenses but argued that the State did not sufficiently rebut his self-defense claim. The court noted that a person may use deadly force in self-defense if he reasonably and honestly believes it is necessary to prevent either his own imminent bodily harm or death or that of another individual. If a defendant meets the burden of producing evidence from which the jury could determine the elements necessary to establish a prima facie defense of self-defense are present, the burden then shifts to the prosecution to rebut the defense.

In the subject case, the defendant argued his actions were taken in defense of customers in the restaurant. The court noted this argument was not persuasive, as there were no customers present at the time the shots were fired. Thus, he failed to demonstrate he was acting in self-defense, and the State was not required to rebut his assertions.

Consult a Knowledgeable Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Assault charges carry serious penalties, but in some cases, defendants may be able to argue that their actions were justified. If you are charged with assault, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney about your potential defenses. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a knowledgeable Michigan criminal defense lawyer who is adept at helping people accused of crimes fight to protect their interests, and if you hire him, he will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Bernstein through the online form or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a meeting.


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