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Rob Herbstreith: Castle Doctrine does not apply in all self-defense cases

Published 8:56pm Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Q: I have a friend whose ex-spouse showed up at her house and threatened to kill her. He departed before the police arrived. What is her option for self-defense in the home (he attempted to break in and had no legal right in the residence)? — Cara from Berrien Center

A: Cara, previously I discussed personal self-defense. This question is a great time to discuss the Castle Doctrine, or Self-Defense Act. MCL 780.951, Individual using deadly force or force other than deadly force, states:

Sec. 1.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), it is a rebuttable presumption in a civil or criminal case that an individual who uses deadly force or force other than deadly force under section 2 of the self-defense act has an honest and reasonable belief that imminent death of, sexual assault of or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another individual will occur if both of the following apply:

(a) The individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used is in the process of breaking and entering a dwelling or business premises or committing home invasion or has broken and entered a dwelling or business premises or committed home invasion and is still present in the dwelling or business premises, or is unlawfully attempting to remove another individual from a dwelling, business premises or occupied vehicle against his or her will.

(b) The individual using deadly force or force other than deadly force honestly and reasonably believes that the individual is engaging in conduct described in subdivision (a).

(2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if any of the following circumstances exist:

(e) The individual against whom deadly force or force other than deadly force is used is the spouse or former spouse of the individual using deadly force or force other than deadly force; an individual with whom the individual using deadly force or other than deadly force has or had a dating relationship; an individual with whom the individual using deadly force or other than deadly force has had a child in common; or a resident or former resident of his or her household; and the individual using deadly force or other than deadly force has a prior history of domestic violence as the aggressor (this section is basically stating that the aggressor cannot provoke the attack and then claim self-defense.)

Parent Tip: Do you know your kid’s friends? Are you sure? Learning how to make and keep friends is taught from a young age and is an important life skill. During the teen years the desire to “fit in” and spend time with friends becomes increasingly important. Getting to know your child’s friends is critical because it can tell you a lot about your own child. The desire for independence in the teen years often results in peer influences shaping your child’s new views and attitudes. By getting to know your child’s friends you will have a better understanding of what some of those influences might be.

Learn the names of your child’s friends. Make your home a welcoming place for your child’s friends. Attend school and community events whenever possible. Make it a point to say “hello” to other kids at school and community events. Spend a few moments asking your child’s friends questions like “what sports do you like?” or “what is your favorite summer activity?”

Food for thought: Create a home environment so that kids enjoy coming to your home. Teenagers love to eat, so stock up on plenty of “fun food.” Consider having a “kid-friendly” area in your home. Plan fun activities that your kids and their friends can do with you.

The Smart Summer Campaign is the innovation of Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force and participating CASS Coalition members and partners.

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  • Nilesgal

    Dear Trooper Rob;
    Extending on the child/teen issue, raise your kids to have as much self-confidence as possible. Then when their peers/friends try to get them to do something your child knows is not right, they may just say no and refuse to go along with peer pressure. I agree that knowing who-what-where and when with your kids is spot on! I always knew exactly where my daughter was. That was the rule! I even went so far as to meet the parents, write down the teens’ license plate numbers if they had access to a vehicle, and was a stickler for as much info as possible. She didn’t like it most of the time, but I now have a 20 year old college junior with common sense and a mature outlook on her life. It wasn’t easy, but being a parent never is. I firmly believe that erring on the side of caution is much better than letting things go to avoid fighting with your child. I hope parents read this article and heed this advice. Our kids today need these kinds of parent(s). Good advice! Thanks!

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