When is Self-Defense Justified in Arizona?

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Threatening or Intimidating Criminal Defense

When you find yourself in a self-defense situation, you may assume that you can defend yourself to the fullest extent allowed by law.   However, if you attempt to claim self-defense after a violent or deadly encounter, you will discover that there are limits to self-defense and you may even face criminal charges if you go too far.

Arizona has self-defense laws referred to as “stand your ground” laws, and you will have the opportunity to defend yourself without being forced to retreat. You may also use threats instead of force. If someone were to start punching you, Arizona law permits that you punch them back until they are no longer a threat. However, the use of unreasonable force may open you up to civil liability.

Threatening or Intimidating Criminal Defense

You are allowed to defend yourself against physical force, and you may use physical force to stop:

  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Child molestation
  • Sexual conduct with a minor
  • Armed robbery
  • Aggravated assault

In some cases, you will not be charged at all if the law enforcement officer and prosecutor finds that you were clearly acting in self-defense. However, if you are arrested, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not use justified force.

Castle laws exist in some states and allow a resident to use lethal force if someone enters their home. While Arizona does not specifically have a castle law, statutes permit residents to use lethal force when an intruder breaks into your home.

When You May Not Use Physical Force

Physical force may not be used in certain circumstances. You must not use physical force if the other party issued a verbal threat. Instead, it must be a threat of physical force that is imminent or the other party must threaten to commit a crime. You are not allowed to use self-defense when the other party using force is a law enforcement officer. The police are granted special privileges to allow them to do their jobs including the option to use physical force.

You must avoid using deadly force unless you had a reasonable fear that your life was in danger, and you should only use deadly force as a last resort. The police will likely charge you with a crime if you injure or kill an innocent third party in the process of engaging in self-defense.

Some self-defense cases involve provocation where you may have encouraged the other party to attack you by taunting them. Under these circumstances, you may not use self-defense as an argument. However, if you may communicate a clear intent to withdraw and you may then claim self-defense if the other party continues to use force.

Why You May Need an Arizona Criminal Attorney

Even when you believe you are lawfully acting in self-defense, the prosecutor may describe a different version of the events. You will need an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney to help you. Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, may find an expert witness to assist in the self defense claim. To prove that your act of self-defense was justified, your defense attorney, Robert A. Dodell, will interview witnesses and call on them to testify.

Some cases can test the limits of the law. For example, you may have shot the other party while he was choking you. Because the judge and jury ultimately decide whether your use of force was justified, always be hesitant to use deadly force unless you believe that your life is in danger. You will need a lawyer in self-defense cases because the laws in any state are subject to change and you will need to craft a defense based on facts of the case, current laws and available precedent. Contact Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, for help.

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