ARIZONA SELF-DEFENSE LAW
You train to act fast and hard in an attack situation, without concern for the welfare of your attacker, but what about the aftermath? What if your actions seriously injure him? What if your actions kill him? Be assured, under Arizona law, you have the right to use reasonable force to protect yourself, your loved ones, and to some extent your property. The key is leveling a “reasonable” response to the situation. Here is a summary of the relevant Arizona statutes.
Defending Yourself or a Third Party
As a general rule, you are entitled to match the force of your attacker. In other words, you can use physical force to match reasonable threat of imminent unlawful physical force, and you can use deadly force in the face of imminent deadly force. These options are not available (1) in response to verbal provocation, (2) in response to lawful arrest, or (3) if you unlawfully provoked the attack and the other person attempts to withdraw. A.R.S. 13-404, 13-405.
This becomes problematic only if your response is clearly disproportionate to the level of threat. For example, if the drunk guy at the crowded bar continues to hang his arm around your shoulder and proposition you, despite your verbal requests to “get lost”, you are NOT legally entitled to pull a gun and shoot him, or execute a V-strike to his throat. The response – a lethal action – is excessive in light of the immediate threat level.
In Arizona, there is no duty to retreat from an attack situation before using adequate force in your response, even if you are able to do so. A.R.S. 13-405. And you may use the same standard to defend another as you would to defend yourself. A.R.S. 13-406.
Defending Your Premises, Property or Vehicle
You are also legally permitted to use force, under some circumstances, to defend against violation of your home and other property. And again, there is no duty to retreat. Here’s a bullet point summary of these instances:
-You may threaten deadly force or use physical force if necessary to prevent or end criminal trespass on your premises. (You may only USE deadly force if it meets the requirements discussed above.) A.R.S. 13-407.
-You may use physical force to protect your tangible movable property. A.R.S. 13-408.
-You may use both physical and deadly force if necessary to prevent enumerated crimes, including: arson of an occupied structure, first or second degree burglary, sexual misconduct with a minor, sexual assault, child molestation, armed robbery or aggravated assault. A.R.S. 13-411.
-You may use physical or deadly force if you believe there is a risk of death or serious injury when the offender forcefully enters a residential structure or occupied vehicle, or when the offender attempts to forcefully remove you from a residential structure or occupied vehicle (kidnapping or carjacking). Again, there is no duty to retreat. A.R.S. 13-418.
When someone unlawfully enters your home or occupied vehicle, it is “presumed” (very important from a legal standpoint) that he poses an imminent threat of deadly harm. Thus it is also presumed reasonable to believe it’s necessary to use physical or deadly force. There are of course a few exceptions, such as when the person entering has a legal right to be where he is, he is a parent, grandparent, or other legal guardian of a child sought to be removed from the home, you are engaged in unlawful activity, or the person is in law enforcement and entering in the course of his official duties. A.R.S. 13-419.
The takeaway is that you have every right to defend yourself against personal threats. Under the stress of an attack situation, there is little time to think. You must respond quickly and completely. If you have no time to reflect on the “legal” course of action, don’t. That is your cue to act. And survive. You are worth it.