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Affirmative defense vs justification defense

Posted on August 26, 2019 in Uncategorized

Arizona law provides for two different types of defenses that can be raised in criminal cases, apart from the State’s failure to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Affirmative Defense

The first, and arguably weaker, of the bunch, are the affirmative defenses.  Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-205, a defendant must prove any affirmative defense that he raises by a preponderance of the evidence.  This is different from every other aspect of a criminal case, where the State must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are affirmative defenses in almost every area of the law, but some common ones include:

  • Entrapment
  • Lack of Sexual Interest
  • Inoperability of a firearm in Misconduct Involving Weapons cases
  • Using a drug as prescribed in DUI cases

Justification Defense

Justification defenses on the other hand, do not require a defendant to prove anything.  Prior to April 24, 2006, justification defenses were affirmative defenses, but this was changed by Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-205, the affirmative defense statute, to specifically state that they are not affirmative defenses.  That means that if there is evidence warranting instruction on a justification defense, then the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified.

Common justification defenses include:

  • Self-Defense
  • Defense of Property
  • Defense of a Third Party
  • Use of Force in Crime Prevention
  • Duress

Both types of defenses, affirmative defenses and justification defenses, require extensive knowledge and experience with Arizona law to properly utilize to your advantage in a criminal case.  It is important to contact lawyers knowledgeable and experienced to get the best possible advice for how to raise these defenses in your case.  The lawyers at AZ Defenders have the skills and know-how to utilize these defenses to protect you against prosecution.

 

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