Posted on May 8, 2021 in Arizona Law
Arizona has self-defense laws that permit you to use force to defend yourself. In some cases, you can even use deadly force to defend yourself. However, the action you can take depends on the circumstances. Your use of deadly force to stop someone from stealing your car may not justify self-defense.
Gun owners in Arizona should be familiar with the state’s self-defense laws. Those laws could be the basis for your criminal defense if you ever need to use your gun to shoot a thief or intruder.
Arizona Revised Statute §13-408 allows a person to use physical force in defense of property. However, the statute specifies that the force should be only that which is necessary to prevent theft or criminal damage to tangible movable property.
The statute does say that deadly physical force may be used as allowed under §§13-405, 13-406, and 13-411. What does that mean? It means that you cannot shoot someone under normal circumstances if they are trying to steal your car.
Arizona Revised Statute §13-405 states you can use deadly physical force if someone is trying to use deadly force against you. ARS §13-406 states you can use deadly physical force to protect a third person if deadly physical force is being used against that person. ARS §13-411 states deadly physical force may be used to prevent certain crimes, such as arson, manslaughter, kidnapping, sexual assault, and other violent crimes.
Under the above statutes, you can use deadly physical force to protect yourself or another person from deadly physical force. You can also use deadly physical force to prevent the commission of some crimes under ARS §13-411.
Therefore, if a thief is committing one of those crimes or attempting to use deadly physical force against you or another person while stealing your car, you could be justified in shooting the thief. For example, if someone is trying to steal your car with a deadly weapon and you are in the vehicle, you could be justified in shooting them. If the thief is trying to kidnap a child by stealing your car, you might be justified in shooting the thief.
Each self-defense statute is very specific about when a person is justified in using deadly physical force. It also requires a judge or jury to determine what a “reasonable person” would believe was necessary to prevent harm or the commission of a crime.
Therefore, you may believe you were justified in shooting someone who was stealing your car, but a “reasonable person” might disagree. Using physical force to stop someone from stealing your car when there is no danger to you or another person is generally not considered self-defense. You or another person must have been in immediate danger to justify deadly force as self-defense.
Using deadly force to shoot an intruder entering your home may be justified under Arizona’s Castle Doctrine and self-defense statutes. However, shooting someone who is stealing your car from your driveway may result in a murder charge.
If you use deadly physical force and you are charged with murder or another crime, it is vital that you seek legal advice immediately. Arizona self-defense laws are complicated. They involve proving what a reasonable person would do, which can be tricky.
If you claim self-defense, it is up to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a reasonable person would not have taken the same action to protect themselves or another person. However, juries are unpredictable.
You may or may not want to take the matter to a jury trial, depending on the facts of the case. A criminal defense lawyer analyzes the facts and the law to develop a defense strategy that gives you the best chance of avoiding jail and other penalties.
If you are charged with a crime after acting in self-defense, the best advice is to remain silent. You might believe you can avoid an arrest by explaining “your side” of the story. However, answering questions and making statements to the police is not in your best interest.
A person who remains silent except for asking for a criminal defense lawyer does not appear guilty, regardless of what the police might tell you. Instead, that person is smart. You should only talk to your lawyer about your case. Do not talk to the police, friends, or family members.