There is a threat to your life, and you feel scared. Is your reaction fight or flight? There is no time to think of the consequences should you defend yourself. There is no time to make a rational decision. When your life is at stake there is no logic involved.

Protecting yourself from a person intent on causing you harm is self-defense. Arizona Criminal Code 13-404 states threatening or using physical force when threatened by someone is justified when a person believes physical force is necessary to protect against unlawful physical force. The justification for the use of self-defense is a common defense when there is a charge of assault or aggravated assault.

Use of physical force in self-defense

In some cases, the use of physical force when defending yourself may be justifiable and not considered a criminal offense.

  • Physical force may be used by a parent, teacher or guardian against a minor or incompetent person when necessary.
  • An official of a jail, prison or correctional institution may use physical force to prevent a crime and to keep the peace.
  • A person who believes another person may commit suicide may use physical force to prevent this.

Arizona’s Stand Your Ground law

Many states have a Stand Your Ground law, including Arizona. This law is under the statute for justification for deadly physical force. A person does not have the duty to retreat before threatening or using deadly physical force when needed.

Limits to self-defense

There are some circumstances when the law does not justify the use of physical force for self-defense:

  • Resisting arrest, no matter if the arrest is lawful or not
  • Provoking someone else to use unlawful physical force
  • Responding to verbal provocation

If the police come to your residence in response to a situation using deadly force, cooperate fully. You have the right to contact an attorney before talking to them.