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What Is the Castle Doctrine?

What Is the Castle Doctrine? The Castle Doctrine is an Arizona law that allows a person to use reasonable force, including deadly force if necessary, to defend themselves or someone else against an unlawful intruder within their home – or “castle.”

For homeowners and renters, understanding this doctrine in detail is essential so you can be aware of your rights when it comes to protecting yourself and your property.

The Scope of Protection Afforded By the Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine allows individuals to use reasonable force to defend themselves against an intruder within their home. This principle generally means you do not have a duty to retreat if you are confronted by an intruder. Instead, you may stand your ground and protect yourself or others from immediate threats using proportionate force.

The Limitations and Conditions of the Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine is not a free pass to use lethal force in any scenario a person may claim they felt threatened. For the doctrine to apply, several conditions must be met:

The Threat Must Be Immediate and Reasonable

The perceived threat must be both immediate and reasonable. This means that the use of force is justified only if the person genuinely believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent harm or death.

You Cannot Be the Aggressor

The person invoking the Castle Doctrine must not have been the initial aggressor in the situation. If someone initiates a confrontation, they cannot claim the protections of this law.

You Must Meet the Criteria in the Statute

For the Castle Doctrine to be used successfully so a person doesn’t face prosecution, the actions taken must be in response to specific, serious offenses as identified by statute.

The individual must reasonably believe that such force is necessary to prevent the commission of one of the following serious crimes against them or their property:

This ensures that the legal protections afforded by the Castle Doctrine are reserved for situations where the defender is genuinely faced with the threat of serious offenses.

There Is a Presumption of Justification For the Person Invoking the Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine creates a presumed justification as long as a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect themselves from the use or attempted use of unlawful physical force.

This presumption can be rebutted by the prosecutor. That means it’s the prosecutor’s responsibility to show that you weren’t justified in defending yourself instead of you having to prove you were.

The Castle Doctrine vs. Stand Your Ground Law

The Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws are important aspects of self-defense rights in Arizona. They provide individuals with the ability to protect themselves and their loved ones from threats. The laws are similar but have some slight variations, and it’s important to understand both of them.

The Castle Doctrine Law

The Castle Doctrine is specifically tailored to scenarios that occur within one’s own property, which includes a person’s home, workplace, or vehicle. It recognizes your right to use reasonable force, including deadly force if necessary, to protect yourself and your property without the requirement to flee from the danger.

Stand Your Ground Law

Stand Your Ground Law extends self-defense beyond an individual’s property and gives them the right to defend themselves in any location where they are lawfully present. This means if you’re threatened or attacked, you don’t have to retreat if you’re in a location that you’re permitted to be in.

In cases where you use force to defend yourself, you should not be prosecuted, assuming it’s clear that the amount of force was justifiable and reasonable.

Unfortunately, this can be called into question, so it’s essential to know what to do after the incident occurs and the steps to take if you end up facing charges as a defendant.

What To Do If You Use Deadly Force in Your Home

If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to use deadly force in your home, knowing what steps to take immediately after is critical. Here’s what you should do:

Ensure Your Safety

The first priority following a self-defense situation in your home is to ensure you and others are no longer in danger. Stay away from the intruder, securing yourself and any household members as best as possible until help arrives.

Call 911

Contact 911 immediately after making sure you’re safe. Provide necessary information – such as the location of any threats within your home, that you’ve had to use force to protect yourself, and that police and emergency medical services are needed.

Be concise but don’t share too much – the details can be thoroughly discussed later with authorities on scene and your attorney present. Your call is being recorded and can potentially be used in legal proceedings, so it’s important to communicate calmly and avoid sharing unnecessary specifics until you’ve spoken with an attorney.

Let the Police Know You Have a Weapon

When you speak with the police, let them know that you have a weapon and ask them where you should place it. This allows them to understand what they’re walking into so they won’t be surprised or startled to see that you may be armed.

Secure the Scene

After you’re safe and have called the police, make sure you don’t touch the scene, the intruder, or anything else in the area. It’s important for police to see it as it occurred so they get a full picture of what really happened.

Stay Away From the Weapon When the Police Arrive

Once the police arrive at your house, follow all of their directions. Don’t go near the weapon unless they explicitly tell you to. You don’t want them to mistakenly think that you are a threat.

Document Everything

It’s important to capture your recollection of the event while it’s fresh. Write down all pertinent details like times, the sequence of events, verbal exchanges, and anything significant related to the incident.

These notes will be helpful evidence later on when preparing a strong legal defense with your attorney should there be an investigation or charges.

Contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer If You Used Deadly Force in Your Home

Your first call after handling immediate health and safety concerns should be to a criminal defense lawyer. Choose someone with experience in self-defense cases who can navigate the complexities that might follow.

A qualified attorney will guide you through interactions with law enforcement, advising on what to share and when it might be better to remain silent.

If you need help, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a Phoenix criminal defense attorney.

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