Self-defense is a common justification for an assault offense in many fictional shows and movies depicting the criminal justice system in the U.S. But is this still an effective defense strategy in real life — and what do state laws actually say about using force to deflect a threat against your physical safety? Our assault & criminal defense law firm explains how self-defense laws work in Arizona and what you need to know about using it as a justification for an assault charge.
When Is It Legal to Use Force as Self-Defense in Arizona?
The state of Arizona follows a legal principle referred to as “Stand Your Ground”. Unlike the Castle Doctrine that only applies to your home, vehicle or place of employment, Stand Your Ground does not specify any locations where use of force is acceptable and allows individuals to act in self-defense anywhere and anytime they or their loved ones are threatened by someone else. In Arizona, the law goes on to allow deadly force to be used as self-defense in order to prevent someone else from using it against you.
What Separates Assault From Legal Use of Force?
There are a few instances in which Arizona laws find the use of physical force unjustifiable as a defense. Responding with physical force to a verbal threat is not considered self-defense. The same goes for resisting arrest by a peace officer regardless of whether the arrest is lawful or unlawful — the only exception here may be in response to the officer’s use of excessive physical force during the arrest. Provoking someone else into using physical force and responding to it with more physical force is not a justifiable defense with very few exceptions. All of these instances could potentially result in an assault charge.
Is Self-Defense a Valid Argument Against an Assault Charge?
Self-defense is a common strategy used by criminal defense attorneys representing clients during an assault charge. When there is enough evidence to prove that your use of force was justifiable, that you felt compelled to act in order to protect yourself or a loved one, and that there was indeed a threat to your life or physical safety, self-defense may be a feasible argument for your case. It is important to be working with a seasoned assault attorney to develop a defense strategy that will work for you. Our firm has assisted many clients in a similar situation and we are here to help. Reach out to our Mesa, AZ office at (480) 378-9000.