How far can you go in defending yourself and others?

Like most in Yuma, you likely go about your daily routine unafraid of becoming the target of another's threats or aggression. Yet you never know when you might cross paths with an individual that is seemingly intent on doing harm to you and/or others. Your natural reaction may be to defend yourself, yet the fear may also exist that if you must use force against another, you could end up facing criminal charges yourself. Is this true?

Self-defense certainly is not an uncommon claim, but it is one that is often met with a great deal of skepticism. This may be due to questions as to whether or not the allow even allows for it. Arizona has enacted what is known as a "Stand Your Ground" law (which can be found in Section 13-405 of the state's Criminal Code). This law stipulates that your do not have a duty to retreat if a person is threatening to use physical (even deadly) force against you or another. Not only are not required to retreat, but you are permitted to respond in kind if a reasonable person in the same situation would deem it necessary. Specific situations that the law has mentioned where such force is permissible include: 

  • When one is threatening you or others in your immediate vicinity 
  • When one is attempting to enter your home or other property you own
  • When one is attempting to deprive you of personal property 
  • When one is attempting to commit a crime against you or others

In such cases, not only would you be immune from prosecution, but civil liability as well. Keep in mind, however, that the right to use force does not extend to altercations in which you were the initial aggressor or in which you are responding to verbal provocations alone. 

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