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Understanding Arizona’s Self-Defense Laws

Picture this situation: you are at home by yourself enjoying a quiet night in. You turn off the lights and go to bed, only to be woken up by the sound of breaking glass and someone trying to get into your house. You go to investigate and find a masked intruder approaching you with a weapon, so you fire your gun at the assailant and he falls to the ground.

Or, perhaps you are out at a bar with some friends. A drunken patron starts an argument with one of them, which he then escalates into a fight and becomes so violent you are afraid your friend will be permanently injured—or worse. You do the only thing you think you can do: you grab the nearest heavy object and hit the drunk patron over the head with it, and he falls to the ground.

If the armed intruder or drunken assailant are dead, and you are charged with manslaughter, can you assert self-defense or the “stand your ground” law? At Blischak Law, we have represented many clients charged with manslaughter who were simply acting to defend themselves or another person in grave danger. Most importantly, we have successfully defended many people against manslaughter charges by demonstrating to the court that the self-defense and stand your ground defenses apply to their situation.

In Arizona, individuals generally have no duty to retreat before the use physical force against another to defend themselves or another from imminent physical harm. If the person acting in self-defense is later charged with manslaughter, and they assert the self-defense justification, the burden is then placed on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense. The need for self-defense can arise in a wide array of circumstances.

Similarly, an individual can assert the stand your ground defense in Arizona under the right circumstances. In Arizona, you can threaten or use deadly force if a reasonable person in your situation believes it is necessary to protect yourself or another person from imminent bodily harm that arises from another person’s unlawful use of force. The need for standing your ground can arise in a number of situations, but commonly occurs during the course of home invasions.

Many of the clients we see have questions about Arizona’s “stand your ground” and self-defense laws, especially our clients who are charged with manslaughter. If you were in a stand your ground or self-defense situation and have been charged with manslaughter, you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Prosecutors in Arizona zealously pursue homicide charges, and in an effort to charge you or get you to confess law enforcement may violate your civil rights. It takes an aggressive, experienced criminal defense attorney to recognize when this is happening—and to successfully fight for your freedom.

We know how scary being charged with manslaughter can be and are here to help. If you have been charged with assault, battery, attempted murder, manslaughter, or murder in a stand your ground situation, the best decision you can make is to contact Blischak Law. We serve clients in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Yuma, Flagstaff, and Glenndale areas, and are ready to help you. Contact us today.

Posted in: Criminal Defense