"I understand that good people sometimes find themselves in bad situations."

What You Need to Know About Self-Defense in Arizona

by Aaron M. Black • March 28, 2022

The “Make My Day” law adopted by Colorado in 1985 spawned the right to defend yourself with deadly force while facing immediate peril or justification for you to protect others in your vicinity.

Arizona law authorizes the right to self-defense, as do 28 other states and Puerto Rico, with other states having variants not as inclusive as Arizona’s law.

Self Defense in Arizona

Arizona’s self-defense law

Using deadly physical force to defend yourself is allowed under Arizona Revised Statute §13-404. The law states that, “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.”

This law does not apply to those who are in a verbal provocation or are resisting arrest, even if the arrest is unlawful, unless the arresting officer uses excessive force not allowed by law.

The law also says self-defense is not valid if a person has provoked someone else who then attempted to use physical force; unless the provoking person (a) withdraws from the confrontation, (b) clearly states the intent to leave believing a safe withdraw cannot be safely made, or (c) continues to use or attempts to use unlawful physical force.

Using physical or deadly force is also justified when preventing someone from committing any of these crimes:
  • Arson of an occupied structure
  • First or second degree murder
  • Manslaughter
  • First or second degree burglary
  • Kidnapping
  • Armed robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual conduct with a minor
  • Child molestation


Arizona’s Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine, Arizona Revised Statute §13-411(D), allows the occupants of a residence, a business, or a place that the occupant has a legal right to be there to use a reasonable force or a deadly force to protect themselves from being harmed by an intruder inside the home, on the person’s property, or a conveyance of any kind.

Arizona’s Stand Your Ground law

Stand your ground is specified in Arizona Revised Statute §13-405, which says a person who is threatened by someone is not required to retreat from where they have a right to be, including public places, and if not committing an unlawful act.

Self-defense can be raised if the defendant did not start or escalate the altercation and reacted to keep from being injured or slain.

Self-defense in domestic violence situations

Self-defense also applies in domestic violence cases. For example, an Arizona woman who purchased a gun was arrested for killing her husband. The prosecution argued that the wife had escalated a fight with her husband because of the weapon she bought, but the defense state argued that the husband had a history of violence and she was protecting herself.

A “reasonable person” is a common doctrine in law and now is also applied to a victim of domestic violence.

Reasonable person standard

Arizona’s reasonable person standard in common law is defined as a person who uses an appropriate measure of caution and performs a sensible action. This standard in self-defense requires the defendant to prove that the defensive measures used were taken in the “presumption of reasonableness” or a “presumption of fear.” The difference is the burden of proof is shifted from the defendant to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Self-defense charges and defenses

Your defense begins by declining to answer questions until you have an attorney. That is your constitutional right that protects you from self-incrimination.

Although you have a legal right to defend yourself, it does not mean you cannot be charged. You can be. The person who claimed self-defense in a killing can be prosecuted for second degree murder or manslaughter. Although, you may not be convicted.

Each self-defense case has its particular set of facts however they are similar in that there was an imminent threat causing a reasonable fear and the level of the force used in a variety of situations.

The defense will explore the history of the injured or deceased to find any criminal record or past violent behavior if the people involved knew each other. If they were strangers, the immediate threat and the level of fear it caused can sway a jury toward innocence.

The defense must establish a reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors to win an acquittal.

For the state to win a conviction for voluntary manslaughter, it must show that the action the defendant took was reckless and showing an extreme indifference to human life and the situation caused the reckless action.

To convict on second degree murder, the state must prove you killed intentionally without premeditation or that your behavior was reckless.

The defense will conduct an aggressive independent investigation of the alleged facts to show that the state’s evidence was either lacking quality or reliability and bolster your self-defense claim in showing you were justified in taking the action you did.

The defense also must work to develop mitigating evidence that the state did not have or simply ignored.

Aaron M. Black for your defense

A conviction for an act of self-defense manslaughter or murder will be devastating with long prison terms. Promptly obtaining an aggressive defense attorney, such as myself, who has years of criminal case and courtroom experience is paramount to your life and future and that of your family.

I know that good people can find themselves in bad situations and I always work aggressively to get the charges dismissed, to win an acquittal at trial or reduce the charge to a less serious offense.

In selecting me for your defense, you will always have timely and direct personal communication with me. You will never be handed off to an assistant. I know that defendants sometimes complain about a lack of communication with their defense counsel. That never happens at Aaron M. Black Law.

Immediately launch your defense by calling 480-729-1683 at any time on any day, including weekends and holidays, and I will promptly return your call unless I am at trial or in court. Or use my online contact form.

I defend self-defense cases in state and federal courts in and adjacent to Maricopa County.

About the Author

Aaron Black is the founder and sole attorney of the Law Office of Aaron Black. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, his DUI and criminal defense law firm provides legal services to people who have received felony or misdemeanor charges from the state.

Aaron has developed a strong interest in defending people who have been arrested and received criminal charges for driving under the influence. With his professionalism and knowledge of Arizona DUI and criminal law, he has acted as a check and balance on the police, prosecution and courts and has protected a great number of his clients from excessive and unfair sentencing.

Along with DUI defense, Aaron handles a range of other criminal matters, including aggravated assault, burglary, domestic violence, drug possession, drug trafficking, fraud defense, insurance fraud, sex crimes and white-collar crime.

After graduating college in 2003 from the University of Arizona, Aaron decided to pursue a law degree. He followed a family long tradition and went to the University of South Dakota School of Law where he pursued his goal of becoming a criminal defense lawyer.

After passing the Arizona and South Dakota bar exams, Aaron joined the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender where he defended hundreds of people charged with serious criminal offenses. His work as a public defender helped him sharpen his litigation skills and gave him a unique insight into the Arizona criminal justice system.

Over the course of his 15-year legal career, Aaron has spent a considerable amount of time in both Arizona justice, municipal, state and federal courts. He has argued over 50 jury trials, tried over 100 bench trials and has become one of the highest-rated criminal and DUI defense attorneys in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. He has received a 10/10 rating from the legal directory Avvo because of his legal background and successful case record. Since 2014, he has received the Super Lawyer rating for his work as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.

You can review Aaron’s Attorney Bio page for more information about his background, education and experience as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.

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In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to inform clients and potential clients I am still available for consultations. I am always available by phone, text and/or email. We can also use Facetime for social distancing. The criminal justice system is not stopping due to COVID-19.

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