Prosecutor offers reminder of Michigan self-defense laws
BENZIE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) – The investigation involving a 79-year-old man who confronted and shot an intruder has been turned over to the Benzie County Prosecutor to determine whether the homeowner will face any charges.
After telling the man to get off his property, the homeowner told deputies the intruder came toward him in a threatening manner.
Deputies say the homeowner fired a single shot and hit the 37-year-old intruder in both legs.
The 79-year-old was not arrested, but now the Benzie County Prosecutor will determine whether he felt his life or anyone else’s was in danger.
“In the state of Michigan people certainly have a right to defense themselves, but you cannot defend property with lethal force,” said Benzie County Prosecutor Sara Swanson. “So I would encourage people if a situation arises like this, and there is somebody in your yard or outside call the police and let them handle the situation lock your doors, and hunker down on the inside.”
“Once a homeowner goes out and fires a firearm, now unfortunately there is now an investigation whether or not it was justified and it could have been avoided,” Swanson said.
The prosecutor says Michigan has a Castle Doctrine.
"So with the Castle Doctrine I think with the confusion comes in, is if someone is in your home you can't just shoot them because they're in your home," Swanson said. "I think when we think of some of the examples, we can't assume just because someone is in our home they're going to hurt us."
"I think a perfect example of that, is in Benzie County, sometimes in Frankfort and sometimes in Traverse City where people come up in the summer and they have a rental home, and then they go to the bars and drink, and then forget which home they rented and walk to the wrong home," the prosecutor said. "That person is not there to hurt anybody. It's annoying, it's an inconvenience, and it might've been a scary, but you don't wanna shoot that person and kill them, they don't deserve to lose their life over that."
"Michigan does not have a 'Stand Your Ground' law like, say Florida has, Michigan has the Castle Doctrine which says that in your own home you do not need to retreat, so if the perpetrator had to come into the victims home it means [the homeowner] doesn't have any 'duty' to exit the home to get away from the circumstances anything like that," Swanson said.
The 37-year-old is still in the hospital. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
He is facing trespassing and illegal entry charges.