Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Michigan domestic violence case involving a claim of self-defense by the defendant. Ultimately, the court struck down the claim, even though the defendant reasonably believed that he was acting in defense of another during the altercation.
The central component of a claim of self-defense or defense-of-others is necessity. This requires a finding that the defendant acted intentionally, but that the circumstances of the incident justified his actions.
The Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant’s son was engaged in an argument with the defendant’s wife when they both stumbled and fell to the ground. As the defendant’s wife was getting back up, the defendant pushed her back down to the ground. He then jumped on top of her and squeezed her face, leaving red marks, and threatened to kill her. Subsequently, the defendant claimed he was acting in defense of his son. The jury found the defendant guilty, and the defendant appealed.
On appeal, the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to show that his actions did not constitute a reasonable and lawful defense of another person and that his use of force was justifiable to protect his son. Additionally, the defendant asserted that the altercation was over in seconds and thus the minimal amount of force he used to interfere in what appeared to be a physical confrontation between his wife and son was appropriate and not objectively harmful nor offensive.
The appellate court disagreed with the defendant and upheld the jury’s verdict. Based on the record, the court found that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that the defendant’s use of force was neither justified nor reasonable. By the time the defendant had engaged his wife, the conflict between her and their son had ended and his son was not in physical peril. After sitting on top of his wife for several minutes, the defendant left red marks on his wife’s cheekbones. He also threatened to kill her. This, the court explained, was evidence that the defendant did not act in defense of his son and instead committed an intentional, un-consented, and offensive touching of his wife (battery) and an unlawful act that placed his wife in reasonable apprehension of immediate battery (assault).
This case illustrates the complexities that may arise in a domestic violence case. The system of laws governing domestic disputes and self-defense can be challenging, and small details involving evidence may be the difference between winning or losing a case.
Have You Been Arrested for a Michigan Crime?
If you have recently been charged or arrested with any type of serious Michigan domestic violence crime, the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Michigan Defense Law can help. We have significant experience working with a diverse range of cases, including Michigan assault crimes, drug offenses, and weapons crimes. We aggressively defend the rights of our clients, regardless of the charges they are facing. To schedule a free consultation and learn more, call 248-451-2200.