Stand Your Ground Law in Arizona

Cindy Castillo Law News

In the wake of the Zimmerman decision, and for those of you who are wondering where Arizona law falls on Stand Your Ground, below is Arizona’s Justification statute.

Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-404(A) provides:

  1. Except as provided in subsection B of this section, 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.
  2. The threat or use of physical force against another is not justified:
    1. 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 in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction, whether the arrest is lawful or unlawful, unless the physical force used by the peace officer exceeds that allowed by law; or
    3. If the person provoked 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 reasonably believing he cannot safely withdraw from the encounter; and
      2. The other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful physical force against the person.
        Essentially, Arizona’s justification statute allows a person to act in self defense 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.

Because Justification is not an affirmative defense in Arizona, a defendant does not bear the burden of proving self-defense. A defendant on trial need only present evidence of self defense, and the state bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act with justification. Nevertheless, a defendant charged with an offense in Arizona should be prepared to fight a long and emotional battle. Many Defendants in Maricopa who are charged with using a gun in self-defense where the county attorneys office does not agree with the Defendant’s decision receive prison offers.