Arizona has adopted specific laws that help delineate the difference between self-defense and assault. These laws are designed to protect citizens if they are forced to defend themselves from a physical attack or imminent danger and to detail when physical force is not justifiable. Under Arizona's “stand your ground” law, you have no duty to retreat before using force when defending yourself. However, there is a very thin line between assault and self-defense, and it is important that you understand the difference between the two.
Understanding Arizona’s Self-Defense Laws
To begin to understand, it is important to read Chapter 4 of Title 13 of the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS). These statutes relate to self-defense in Arizona and detail what is and isn't permissible by law, and where an individual may use physical and deadly physical force in self-defense.The most common of these that are used in self-defense cases are:
ARS 13-401 - Unavailability of justification defense; justification as a defense
ARS 13-405 - Justification use of deadly force to reasonably defend against unlawful deadly force
ARS 13-411 - Justification; use of force in crime prevention; applicability
ARS 13-421 - Justification; defensive display of a firearm; definition
While it is important to read these laws, they may be difficult to understand. It is important to hire an experienced attorney to help you understand the nuances of them.
Claiming self-defense is a common defense used in cases of assault. This applies if your lawyer can prove that the physical force you used was justified and necessary and that the amount of force you used was in proportion to the threat. Once a self-defense strategy is invoked, it is up to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force against the other party was not justified in your situation.While you are not obligated to retreat when threatened if you have the legal right to be where you are, you will need to prove that you were in danger, there was no way to diffuse the situation, and that you did not attack, provoke, or make threats to the other party.The stand your ground laws do not just apply to defending yourself. You can use force to defend other people who are being threatened and may be in danger. This is especially true if the people involved cannot defend themselves. You may also be able to claim self-defense if you use physical force to stop another person from committing a crime.
When Physical Force is Assault
There are situations that do not allow the use of physical force that can result in an assault or more serious charge. The force you use is not unlimited and needs to be reasonable and in proportion to the gravity of the threat.If someone verbally threatens you, you are not allowed under law to use physical force nor are you protected by these laws if you did something threatening to someone and they responded. It also does not apply if you physically resist while being arrested. Lastly, you can also be charged with a crime if your actions result in the death or injury of an innocent third party.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for assault or other serious crimes, contact us. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to providing excellent legal representation to those who have been arrested or accused of committing a crime.