Imagine you're walking to your car at night. Suddenly a masked person carrying a baseball bat rounds the corner and demands your valuables. You could run or shout for help. Instead, you draw your gun and fight back. Shots are fired and the assailant lies on the ground dead. Can you be charged with a homicide or do you have the right to stand your ground? Chances are if this occurred in Arizona, or one of the other states that have stand your ground laws, your actions would be covered by the state's self-defense laws.
Understanding Arizona's Self Defense Laws
Under Arizona self-defense laws, there's generally no duty to retreat before threatening or using physical force if you're in a place where you're legally permitted to be and you're not engaged in an unlawful act. In fact, Arizona has several situations in which the use of physical force is justified. Aside from self-defense, physical force can be used to prevent certain crimes and in defense of a third person, just to name a few. When a justification defense is used, the prosecution has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant didn't act with justification.
Overview of Arizona's Stand Your Ground and Self Defense Laws
When looking for the answer to a legal question, a good place to start is to read the actual language of the law. But, this can be more difficult than you'd think because most laws are written in legal jargon. For this reason, it's good to read an overview of the law in plain English. The following chart provides a general overview of Arizona's stand your ground and self-defense laws as well links to relevant statutes.
Arizona Revised Statutes
|When the Use of Force in Self Defense Is Justified
||A person is justified in threatening or actually using physical force, including deadly force, if a reasonable person would believe that the force is immediately necessary to protect themselves from the other person's use or attempted use of unlawful physical force.
|When the Use of Force in Self Defense Is Not Justified
The use of physical force in self-defense isn't justified in the following situations:
- In response to verbal threats only;
- Resisting arrest from a law enforcement officer;
- When an innocent third person is injured or killed by the defendant's reckless actions;
- When the defendant provoked the other person's use of force, UNLESS (1) the defendant withdrew and clearly communicated their intent to withdraw and (2) the other person continued to use unlawful physical force.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Arizona Stand Your Ground and Self Defense Laws
If you'd like additional information related to this topic, you can visit the links below.
Questions About Arizona Self Defense Laws? Talk to an Attorney
Being involved in a situation where deadly force was used can lead to serious criminal charges ranging from manslaughter to murder. If you're facing manslaughter or murder charges in Arizona, it's in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help evaluate the evidence against you and establish the strongest defense possible.