Self Defense in Assault Cases

Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Aggressively Representing Clients Charged with Violent Crimes

Facing assault charges in Arizona is incredibly stressful, given the very real possibility of jail time. However, if you were not the one who started the fight and you were acting in self defense, you have a viable defense to the charges against you. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our renowned Maricopa criminal defense attorney skillfully defends clients facing all types of violent crimes, including assault and allegations of domestic violence.

Self Defense and Arizona Assault Charges

Arizona law provides for a number of different assault charges. While the specifics of the different types of assault vary, in general, they all prohibit someone from intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing or attempting to cause physical injury to another person. However, in certain circumstances, you are allowed to commit what would otherwise be an assault.

One situation where you can legally cause physical injury to another person is if you are acting in self defense or defense of others.

When Can You Legally Act in Self Defense in Arizona?

Arizona law has a specific self defense statute, contained in Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-404. Under this section, you are able to use physical force against another person when a reasonable person would believe that force was necessary. The use of the term “reasonable person” creates an objective standard, meaning jurors are to ask themselves not whether you actually thought the force was necessary but whether an average person in society would have thought the use of force was necessary. This reasonable person standard applies both to whether force was justified in the first place as well as the extent of force used.

While § 13-404 outlines what constitutes self defense, it also provides for exceptions when self defense does not apply.

  • You cannot act in self defense in response to another’s words, regardless of how offensive;
  • You cannot act in self defense to resist a lawful or unlawful arrest unless the officer is using excessive force;
  • You cannot act in self defense if you started the fight unless you clearly express your desire to withdraw from the fight and the other person continues attacking you.

As you can see, several of these exceptions have exceptions of their own. This can make running a self-defense defense quite complicated, even if the facts are not in dispute. In addition to self defense, there are other defenses to assault and aggravated assault crimes, as well. Contact a Phoenix criminal defense attorney to discuss which defenses apply in your case.

Can You Use a Weapon When Acting in Self Defense?

Yes, in certain circumstances, you can use a weapon to defend yourself. If the weapon is not used to assert deadly force, the general self defense rules apply. However, if using a weapon results in deadly force, you must meet the requirements of Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-405. Section 13-405 provides the use of deadly force is appropriate:

  1. If the use of physical force is justified under the self defense statute; and
  2. When it is used and to the extent necessary that a reasonable person would believe that deadly physical force is immediately necessary to protect themselves against another’s use or attempted use of deadly force.

In other words, you can meet someone else’s deadly force with deadly force, but you can’t escalate a non-life-threatening encounter by using deadly force.

Reach Out to a Dedicated Maricopa County Assault and Battery Defense Attorney Today

If you are facing assault charges in Maricopa County, reach out to the Law Office of James E. Novak for assistance. Attorney Novak is a former prosecutor who switched sides and has been defending the rights of his clients for more than 25 years. He is passionate about his work and truly enjoys helping good people get out of bad situations. Aside from assault crimes, Attorney Novak also represents clients charged with domestic violence offenses, DUI offenses, drug charges, and other serious misdemeanors and felonies. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Novak today, call 480-413-1499.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation
(840) 413-1499