MI C.J.I.2d 7.15. Use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense

1) The defendant claims that [he/she] acted in lawful self-defense. A person has the right to use force or even take a life to defend [himself/herself] under certain circumstances. If a person acts in lawful self-defense, [his/her] actions are excused and [he/she] is not guilty of any crime.

2) You should consider all the evidence and use the following rules to decide whether the defendant acted in lawful self-defense. Remember to judge the defendant’s conduct according to how the circumstances appeared to [him/her] at the time [he/she] acted.

3) First, at the time [he/she] acted, the defendant must have honestly and reasonable believed that [he/she] was in danger of being [killed/seriously injured/forcibly sexually penetrated]. If [his/her] belief was honest and reasonable, [he/she] could act immediately to defend [himself/herself] even if it turned out later that [he/she] was wrong about how much danger [he/she] was in. In deciding if the defendant’s belief was honest and reasonable, you should consider all the circumstances as they appeared to the defendant at the time.

4) Second, a person may not kill or seriously injure another person just to protect [himself/herself] against what seem like a threat of only minor injury. The defendant must have been afraid of [death/serious physical injury/forcible sexual penetration]. When you decide if the defendant was afraid of one or more of these, you should consider all the circumstances: [the condition of the people involved, including their relative strength/ whether the other person was armed with a dangerous weapon or had some other means of injuring the defendant / the nature of the other person’s attack or threat / whether the defendant knew about any previous violent acts or threats made by the other person].

5) Third, at the time [he/she] acted, the defendant must have honestly and reasonably believed that what [he/she] did was immediately necessary. Under the law, a person may only use as much force as [he/she] thinks is necessary at the time to protect [himself/herself], but you may also consider how the excitement of the moment affected the choice the defendant made.