In the current age of civil rights protests, rioting and looting, people have found themselves in a position where they are forced to defend themselves, their businesses or another individual. Many of these situations are caught on video, portrayed repeatedly and commented upon during nightly news shows. Examples of these incidents include storeowners in Los Angeles standing outside their businesses while holding a firearm to shoo people away or the married couple in St. Louis who stood in front of their home with a rifle and pistol to keep protestors at bay. Unfortunately, many people in Arizona often find themselves arrested and charged with offenses such as Assault or Aggravated Assault after they act for the purpose of defending themselves or their property.
A person who admits they engaged in some type of behavior which would otherwise be against the law but says they are "Not Guilty" because they were justified in what they did are claiming a defense in Arizona commonly referred to as "Justification." Usually, a justification defense is asserted against charges of Assault, Aggravated Assault or Homicide and involves situations where a person acts to defend themselves, another person or property. Once evidence supporting a "Justification" defense is presented by a defendant, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person's actions weren't justified.
Under Arizona Law (A.R.S 13-404), a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when there is a reasonable belief that it is necessary to protect themselves against the other person's attempted or actual use of unlawful physical force. Of course, a person's use of force must be reasonable in light of the threat which is present. Additionally, limits to a person's right to use physical force in self defense include situations involving:
- verbal provocation alone
- arrests made by a police officer acting within his duty and not using excessive force
- provocation of the attempted or actual use of physical force
Again, your use of physical force in self defense must be reasonable to the threat which is at hand and must also be immediately necessary.
DEFENDING THIRD PARTIES:
Arizona law provides protection to people who act to defend others. Specifically, A.R.S. 13-406 states that people can threaten or actually use physical force to protect another person if they reasonably believe they would have been justified in using that same force to protect themselves. Again, the amount or type of force threatened or used must be reasonable, in proportion to the harm perceived and must be immediately necessary.
DEFENDING YOUR PROPERTY:
Similar to defending yourself, Arizona law (A.R.S 13-408) also permits people to use physical force to defend their property. The use of physical force is justified when a reasonable person believes it is necessary to prevent an attempt or commission of criminal damage or theft of their property. Except in very rare circumstances, deadly force is not permitted merely to defend one's property.
WHEN CAN DEADLY FORCE BE USED?
Under certain circumstances, lethal force may lawfully be used against another person. However, given the extremely serious consequences which may occur, deadly force is lawful only when:
- Physical force would otherwise be justified and,
- It is reasonably believed to be necessary to guard against another's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force.
Additionally, a person may use deadly force against an intruder into their home. This is often referred to as "The Castle Doctrine" which states an individual has no duty to retreat and can use deadly force if he or she is in a place where they may legally be present and are not engaged in any unlawful activity. Finally, deadly force may be used when a person reasonable believes it is necessary to prevent a number of crimes including:
- Arson of an occupied structure
- Burglary of a residence
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Conduct with a Minor
- Child Molestation
- Armed Robbery
- Aggravated Assault involving serious physical injury or deadly weapon.
Undoubtedly, Justification Defenses in Arizona are complicated and involve a number of nuances which must be thoroughly examined and researched by an experienced criminal defense attorney. Perhaps some fine points to remember are:
- The need to use physical force must be immediate and against on ongoing threat
- You cannot claim self-defense if you have provoked the incident
- Self Defense cannot be used against verbal threats alone
- Your use of self defense must be a reasonable response and proportionate to the threat which is perceived
- Deadly force cannot be used to defend property unless it involves an unlawful entry into your home or the arson of an occupied structure.
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If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Tempe, Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale or any other city within Maricopa or Pinal County, it is vital that you contact a highly skilled criminal lawyer immediately. Tempe criminal defense lawyer Raymond Kimble will recognize available defenses and has been defending people charged with felony crimes for many years. Mr. Kimble knows how to prepare a solid defense, challenge the prosecution's evidence and negotiate a reduction or dismissal of the charges
With a seasoned Tempe criminal defense attorney on your case, you will have your rights protected as your attorney fights to secure a favorable outcome on your behalf. Attorney Raymond Kimble has successfully represented hundreds of individuals throughout Arizona over the last twenty years who have been accused of assault, aggravated assault and many other serious offenses.
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