Most people who own a gun in Michigan either purchase it for hunting, or protecting their property and family. It can be a comforting feeling to know you have a way to defend yourself if necessary, however many don’t realize the legal ramifications of shooting or killing someone who they believed was threatening their life or invading their property.
In June of 2016 a Jackson County man was charged with two counts of second-degree murder after he shot two teens who were on his property and attempting to break into his vehicles. Is this self-defense? Tracy Lawrence reportedly shot at the boys as they were fleeing, which under Michigan law is unlawful. In order to use a self-defense claim, a person has to have reasonable fear that his or her life is in imminent danger, or that great bodily harm will occur.
A similar incident occurred in Minnesota when a 65-year-old man shot at a vehicle in which three teens who were “casing” his home for a future burglary were attempting to flee after the man came to the window and startled the teens. The man claims he was shooting at the front tire in an effort to stop the teens, however a bullet struck the driver and killed him. He now stands charged with reckless discharge of a firearm and second-degree manslaughter.