What constitutes self-defense in Arizona? Can I protect myself if I’m afraid someone is going to hurt me?
You can, if you act reasonably.
Arizona’s self defense statutes are Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-404 and § 13-405. Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-404 provides for a defense in using or threatening to use physical force that is not deadly physical force. It provides 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 physical force.
But, there are some exceptions:
(1) You cannot use or threaten physical force against another person in response to a verbal provocation. That means that it’s not enough for them to say they are going to hurt you for you to use force against them.
(2) You cannot use or threaten physical force to resist an arrest from a person you know or should know is a peace officer, regardless of whether the arrest is lawful or unlawful. The one exception to this exception is if the physical force used by the peace officer exceeds what is allowed by law.
(3) You cannot use or threaten physical force if you provoke the other person’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force. That is, unless you withdrew from the encounter or clearly communicated your intent to do so and the other person continues or attempts to use unlawful physical force against you.
Essentially, it is a question of whether a reasonable person would think that you would need to use physical force or threat of force to protect yourself from someone else’s use of unlawful force.
Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-405 provides for the use of deadly physical force in self-defense. If you would be justified in using force pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-404 then you may use deadly physical force 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 physical force. So to use deadly physical force, for example by drawing a gun on someone or even shooting them, you must reasonably believe that the other person was using or attempting to use deadly physical force against you and your use of force is immediately necessary.
Again, the question is always whether you acted
reasonably. That’s a question of fact,
but one that you should get an attorney experienced and knowledgeable in
Arizona’s self-defense statutes to help you answer. The attorneys at AZ Defenders have
significant knowledge and experience with self-defense and cases of
self-defense where a person gets charged with a crime for exercising their right.
Call to schedule a consultation to find the best way to defend your