Self-defense means that someone is justified in the use of force or threats against another person due to the reasonable belief that he or she is in imminent danger of bodily harm. If you had to use force against someone in Arizona – including the use of a firearm or another deadly weapon – in self-defense, you may find yourself in a difficult legal situation, even if you believe you were justified in using the force. You may have to prove that you acted in self-defense or in defense of others to avoid prosecution.
Arizona’s Self-Defense and Stand Your Ground Law
Self-defense according to Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-404 is the justified use of threat or physical force against another person in a situation where a reasonable person would believe that it is necessary to protect himself or herself against the other person’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force. In other words, you can use the argument of self-defense if the other party was threatening you with physical force. You can also use the argument of defense of others in Arizona (ARS 13-406) if you were protecting a third person.
There are some exceptions to the rule, however, that make these cases tricky. If the other person communicated his or her intent to withdraw from the encounter, for example, your use of physical force may not constitute self-defense. The law also states that you cannot argue self-defense if you use physical force in response to verbal provocation alone, to resist an arrest or if the person provoked the unlawful use of physical force.
Unlike some states, Arizona does not have a specific Stand Your Ground Law. However, you are allowed to defend yourself in a manner that is reasonable based on the situation – even if that means the use of deadly force, such as a firearm. The law states that your use of force must be reasonable – it must match the use of force by the aggressor – and only used when immediately necessary. If someone trespasses on your property simply to cut through to a nearby park, for example, you cannot respond by shooting the trespasser.
Exceptions to the Rule
In general, your use of force must only be reasonably necessary to protect yourself. However, Arizona does allow the use of deadly force or physical force in the face of serious crimes, even if the other party did not have a weapon. If someone broke into your home, for example, you may have the right to use deadly force regardless of whether the burglar had a weapon or was threatening to use it against you.
How Can You Prove Self-Defense?
If you are in a situation where you injured or killed someone else while acting in self-defense, it may be necessary to prove that the actions you took were justifiable and reasonably necessary based on the circumstances. Establishing self-defense may require statements from any eyewitnesses who saw the exchange take place. If the location had video surveillance footage, this can also be used as evidence. If you and the other party were the only two witnesses, you may need a lawyer’s assistance proving that your actions were necessary to protect yourself against an immediate threat.
What to Do if You Were Arrested for Acting in Self-Defense
Even if you were acting in self-defense when you injured someone, you may face criminal charges such as assault, battery, assault with a deadly weapon or even manslaughter. If you get arrested or are being questioned by law enforcement after acting against someone else in self-defense in Phoenix Arizona, contact a criminal defense attorney in Arizona right away for assistance. A lawyer can thoroughly investigate the situation and gather evidence that supports your claim of self-defense. A lawyer can help protect you from adverse consequences for acting in self-defense.