Arizona Stand Your Ground Law and Self Defense

arizona stand your ground lawArizona is a state that has what is commonly called a “stand your ground” law.  This refers to a type of statute that allows for a certain type of self-defense.  This blogpost will provide an overview of Arizona self-defense and stand your ground law.

Self-defense law is an important aspect of law that everyone should have a solid grasp of.  If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to use self-defense, you likely are not going to be thinking of what is legal in your state.  It is important to know beforehand what the potential consequences are for certain types of self-defense actions.

Justification for Self Defense in Arizona

Arizona Revised Statute §13-404 describes the justification for self-defense.  This statute states that a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when, and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force.

The statute further lists that physical force is not justified if:

  1. It is in response to verbal provocation alone; or
  2. To resist an arrest that the person knows or should know is being made by a peace officer or by a person acting on the peace officer’s direction, unless the physical force used by the peace officer exceeds that allowed by law; or
  3. If the person provided the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force, unless
    1. The person withdraws from the encounter or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so; and
    2. The other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful physical force against the person.

This above statute is common in most states.  A person is justified to use physical force against another when it is reasonable to do so.  A person is not justified if the threat is words alone, to resist arrest, or if the person started the altercation.

Justification for Deadly Physical Force in Arizona

Note that this statute only talks about physical force, not deadly physical force.  ARS § 13-1409 provides the justification for use of deadly physical force.  A person is justified in using or threatening deadly physical force if:

  1. Such a person would be justified in threatening or using physical force against the other under § 13-404 and
  2. When and to the degree a reasonable person would believe that deadly physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly physical force.

Essentially, a person may use deadly physical force if they meet the requirements of § 13-404 and if the other is using deadly physical force against them.

This statute also makes clear that there is no duty to retreat before threatening or using deadly physical force if the person is in a place where the person may legally be and is not engaged in an unlawful act.

While statute does not explicitly call it a “stand your ground”, this no duty to retreat is essentially what this constitutes. If you are not engaged in an unlawful act and you are legally where you can be, if someone uses deadly force against you, you may also use deadly force against them.  In the most common example, if you are in your home and an intruder comes in, you likely will be able to use proportionally force against that person without having to retreat.

It is important to be aware that in any situation where deadly force was used opens up the person who used the force to investigation by the authorities to ensure that deadly force was justified.  It is prudent to hire an attorney to ensure you are being treated fairly.

Click here for information on the insanity defense in Arizona.