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How to Claim Self-Defense Under Arizona Law

If you are charged with assault or battery in Arizona, you may be able to claim self-defense.

Generally, in Arizona, a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when the force is necessary to protect himself against the other person's unlawful use of force.

Keep in mind that the use of force must be reasonable, and the belief that the other person will strike you also must be reasonable. So you can't simply strike a person if you weren't really being threatened or in a dangerous situation in the first place.

However, you should be aware that the statutes specifically describe certain circumstances in which someone cannot use self-defense. These include:

  • Physical force in self-defense to verbal provocation alone;

  • Resisting arrest by a peace officer; and

  • Situations in which the person claiming self-defense provoked the initial confrontation.

The amount of force used in self-defense must generally be commensurate to the force being threatened. So you typically can't shoot someone for shoving you in the chest. And you certainly can't kill someone who shoves you.

However, there are limited circumstances when deadly force may be used in self-defense. This includes when a reasonable person would believe that deadly force is necessary to protect himself from the use (or attempted use) of unlawful deadly physical force

Under Arizona law, a person claiming self-defense has no duty to retreat before threatening or using deadly physical force. This is true as long as the person is in a place where he is lawfully allowed to be (like in his home), and is not engaged in a crime. So someone committing an unlawful home burglary may have a duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense.

If you have been charged with assault or battery, you should speak with a Phoenix criminal defense attorney to learn about your potential defenses. In some cases, your assault may be justified as self-defense.

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