You hear a crash in the middle of the night and walk into your living room to investigate. You see a masked man with a balaclava and he starts moving to you. What can you do?
Am I allowed to shoot an intruder in my house?
The answer is that it depends.
Using deadly physical force to defend your home is protected by a justification defense. The use of deadly physical force in defense of premises is protected by Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-407 which provides that a person in lawful possession or control of premises is justified in using deadly physical force against another person “to the extent that a reasonable person would believe it immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of a criminal trespass by the other person in or upon the premises.” However, you may only use deadly physical force pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-407 in defense of yourself or others as described in Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 13-405 and 13-406.
So what does that mean? It means that you may shoot the person, thereby using deadly physical force, if you reasonably believe that using deadly physical force is immediately necessary to protect yourself against the use or attempted use of deadly physical force by the other person against you or another person. So that masked man with the balaclava walking towards you? If he began to reach into his waistband and you reasonably believed him to be grabbing a gun, you would likely be found to be justified in shooting him.
However, each of these cases is different. If you shot an intruder in your home you should contact an attorney that is knowledgeable and experienced with Arizona’s justification laws to ensure that you avoid prosecution for defending your home. The attorneys at AZ Defenders can help you defend yourself from possible consequences of defending your home.
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