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Self Defense Laws Questioned After Death Of Florida Teen

CLINTON TWP. (WWJ) - Michigan is one of more than 20 states that followed Florida's lead in adopting the so-called "Stand Your Ground" gun law that is now being questioned in the Trayvon Martin case.

Clinton Township Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Marcil said he has seen a significant increase in the number of cases tried under Michigan's "Self Defense Act," which was patterned after the Florida law.

"The situations and the circumstances in which the claims of self defense are put forth have doubled, tripled in the last five or six years," Marcil  told WWJ Newsradio 950. "It's become somewhat common."

Marcil said that while Michigan's self defense act is most commonly used in home invasion cases, the scope of the law is widening.

"There have been an increasing number of cases that I've seen and that have played out here in Michigan - in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne counties - that involve areas outside of the home.

"For example, and a large reason for the passing of that self defense law, for vehicles, carjackings," he said.

Marcil said the law, which passed in 2006 after intense lobbying from the NRA, shifts the burden onto police and prosecutors to disprove a claim of self defense. "I think the law could stand could stand a little tweaking and maybe being analyzed a little bit more to see if maybe we can improve it," Marcil said.

Florida teen Trayvon Martin was unarmed when he was fatally shot last month by a neighborhood watchman. His shooter has not been charged with a crime.

Marcil said he expects the Trayvon Martin case will prompt states like Michigan to re-examine their "Stand Your Ground" laws, but he does not expect the law here to be repealed.


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