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Arizona “Stand Your Ground” Laws: Justification Defenses

“When a defendant pleads “not-guilty” due to a “justification” defense, they are basically affirming that they used force against another person, for a justifiable reason described under A.R.S. § 13-411; and thus, their actions did not constitute a criminal defense.”

Justification laws are sometimes referred to as “Stand Your Ground” laws. They refer to actions of another resulting from self-defense, or force needed by a person to prevent criminal conduct against them. Some Arizona laws that relate to Justification defenses are found under

A.R.S. § 13 – 205 and A.R.S § 13 – 411. Arizona is one of more than 20 states who have enacted such legislation involving “Stand Your Ground” laws. The states that have such laws, use their own variation of language and provisions. In Arizona a person may lawfully use force  in self-defense:

  • If they have reasonable belief of threat, that a crime under A.R.S. 13-411 will be committed against them;
  • Without a duty to retreat before threatening or using physical force or deadly physical force as justified under A.R.S. § 13-411

When a defendant pleads “not-guilty” due to a “Justification” defense, they are basically affirming that they used force against another person, for a justifiable reason described under A.R.S. § 13-411. Thus, their actions did not constitute a criminal defense.

13-205. Affirmative defenses; justification; burden of proof

Justification defenses describe such conduct  that, if unjustified, would constitute an offense; However if justified, does not constitute criminal actions or wrongful conduct. If evidence of justification pursuant to chapter 4  of this title is  presented by the defendant, the state prosecution must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant did not act with justification.

A.R.S. § 13-411. Justification; use of force in crime prevention; applicability  means a person is justified in using or threatening physical force and deadly force against another person if a person reasonably believes that deadly or physical force is immediately necessary to prevent another’s commission of the following offenses against another person or their property:

  • Arson of an occupied residence, business or structure A.R.S. § 13-1704
  • First or Second degree Burglary A.R.S. § 13-1507 or 13-1508,
  • Kidnapping A.R.S. § 13-1304,
  • Manslaughter A.R.S. § 13-1103,
  • Second or first degree murder  A.R.S. § 13-1104 or 13-1105,
  • Sexual conduct with a minor  A.R.S. § 13-1405,
  • Sexual assault A.R.S. § 13-1406,
  • Child molestation A.R.S. § 13-1410,
  • Armed robbery A.R.S. § 13-1904,
  • Aggravated assault A.R.S. § 13-1204

Additional provisions involving these Justification laws in Arizona include:

  • No duty to first retreat before threatening or using physical force or deadly physical force if justified under A.R.S. § 13-411.
  • A person is presumed to be acting reasonably for the purposes of  A.R.S. § 13-411 if they are acting to prevent a crime, and believe the criminal conduct is imminent or is an actual commission of any crime under A.R.S. § 13-411 .
  •  The locations that apply to any criminal offenses listed under A.R.S. § 13-411 include a person’s home; residence; business; land owns or leased by the person; conveyance; or other place in Arizona where a person is authorized or has the right to be.

“Stand Your Ground” or Justified Conduct in Maricopa County, AZ

You should always retain qualified legal representation to defend your charges if you were arrested, even if you feel your conduct was protected or justified by “Stand Your Ground” laws. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will defend your charges; protect your rights; raise justifiable arguments and tell your side of the story through the criminal justice system. They will work to get the best resolution on your behalf.

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