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Michigan Castle Doctrine Approved by House!


April 25, 2006

Jones seeks to assure victims’ rights to self-defense during attack

Law-abiding Michigan residents who actually and reasonably believe they are facing imminent death, great bodily harm or rape at the hands of a violent criminal are justified in using force to defend themselves and their families. They are no longer required to retreat from a violent attacker in their own home under a package of bills sponsored and spearheaded by state Rep. Rick Jones. The measures were approved today by the Michigan House of Representatives.

“One of Michigan’s most basic values is that a person’s home is their castle,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This legislation makes it clear that not only do you have the right to stand your ground and defend yourself, but you will not be prosecuted or sued for defending yourself or your family in your own home.”

The “castle doctrine” is enshrined as a sacred right in English common law. It holds if you’re wrongfully threatened or attacked in your home, you may meet force with force.

“One inspiration for this law is the historical account of Dr. Ossian Sweet’s 1925 trial for defending his home against the Ku Klux Klan in Michigan,” Jones said. “His attorney, Clarence Darrow, successfully used the ‘castle doctrine’ to defend Dr. Sweet from prosecution for murder.”

House Bills 5142-43 eliminates the duty of law-abiding citizens to retreat in a home or occupied vehicle and establishes a presumption that a criminal who forcibly enters intends to cause death, great bodily harm, or rape. House Bill 5548 would amend current law to make anyone who lawfully defends themselves immune from civil liability. House Bill 5153 creates immunity from criminal prosecution.

“This will prevent criminals or their families from suing victims for injury or death,” Jones said. “It’s common sense and good law.”

Jones says this law is necessary to protect the law-abiding.

“As a former sheriff, I can tell you there are times when action needs to be taken before it is physically possible for law enforcement to get there,” Jones said. “This will give the average resident in Michigan the confidence to know that they can act to defend their life and their family without threat of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution.”

The provisions of the legislation do not cover persons engaging in criminal acts.

The bills now go to the Senate for consideration.

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