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Arizona’s Self Defense and Stand Your Ground Laws

As a general matter, Arizona criminal law prohibits assaulting another person. An assault can occur in several different ways. Under Arizona’s assault statute, it is against the law to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause physical injury to another person; to intentionally place someone else in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury; or to knowingly touch another with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke them. However, there are exceptions when using force against another person is justified.

A justification defense is considered an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is one that, if proven by the defendant, defeats the legal consequences of what would otherwise have been an illegal act. In other words, when claiming a justification offense, the defendant is not contesting any of the elements of the offense. Instead, the defendant is saying “yes, I did what you say I did, but I did it for a good reason.”

As noted above, there are several different situations in which physical force can be used against another person. These include self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property. While each of these defenses is outlined in separate statutes, a defendant must establish that they reasonably believed the force was necessary. However, physical force is never justified based on verbal provocation. Courts consider both whether the person using force was justified in the use of force, as well as whether the extent of the force used was proportionate to threat posed.

The use of deadly force is only allowed when a person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to protect themselves against another’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly physical force. However, under Arizona’s Stand Your Ground law, “a person has no duty to retreat before threatening or using deadly physical force pursuant to this section if the person is in a place where the person may legally be and is not engaged in an unlawful act.”

Physical force can also be used in defense of a person’s property if reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent another from damaging or stealing their property. When it comes to the defense of property, deadly force is only permitted if it is used for self-defense, defense of another person, or to prevent the commission of certain serious offenses, including sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary, arson, and murder.

Have You Been Charged with an Arizona Assault?

If you have recently been charged with assault in Arizona while you were defending yourself, another person, or your property, you may have an affirmative defense to the crimes you have been charged with. Attorney James E. Novak is a dedicated Arizona criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of criminal matters, including Arizona assault cases. To learn more about how Attorney Novak can help you defend your freedom against the charges you are facing, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation today.

Additional Resources:

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Arizona Appellate Court Upholds Search Based on Defendant’s Consent to Search Car, Arizona DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney Blog, February 8, 2019

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Can Arizona Police Stop Someone for Looking Suspicious?, Arizona DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney Blog, January 28, 2019