Arizona Laws on Shooting Trespassers

arizona laws on shooting trespassersSome people assume they can shoot anyone who ventures onto their property simply because trespassers are in violation of the law.  In some situations, it is possible to legally shoot a trespasser on your property.  However, in general, most Arizona property owners are not legally permitted to use deadly force for property protection.  Let’s take a closer look at this complicated legal issue for full clarification.

The Justification for Shooting a Trespasser

If a property owner shoots a trespasser in self-defense, his or her actions are justified under Arizona law.  However, it is fairly challenging to prove the action was performed in self-defense.  This is precisely why you need a talented criminal defense attorney on your side.  You can legally shoot a trespasser in the state of Arizona if you fear death or considerable bodily harm.  The risk in shooting a trespasser is that it will prove difficult to prove your life was in danger or great bodily harm was imminent.  If it is determined you crossed the line, you will face some stiff legal penalties.

An Example to Consider

Let’s take a look at an example of a trespasser attack to clarify the letter of the law.  Use your mind’s eye to envision a scenario in which someone walks up to your house and starts punching you as soon as you open the door.  You are within your legal rights to use physical force that stops the individual from punching you.  However, you are not allowed to punch or kick the individual until he or she falls to the ground.

Furthermore, you are justified in using deadly physical force or threatening the other person if a reasonable individual would have thought the use of deadly force is required for protection.  This means if an individual trespasses on your property and attacks you with a gun, knife or other deadly weapon, you can use a level of force necessary to kill that person so they do not harm you.  In this situation, shooting the trespasser who is attacking you is justified by Arizona law.

Limitations to Arizona’s Self-defense Provision

If the threat against the homeowner occurred minutes, hours or days ago, he or she is not justified in shooting the trespasser.  The threat must be immediate and to the property owner’s person.  Furthermore, if the property owner provoked the encounter with the use of force, the self-defense provision does not apply.  Finally, if the trespasser merely makes a verbal provocation, physical force is unjustified.  As an example, someone who cusses out a property owner while trespassing should not be shot as there is no immediate or physical threat present.

Ensuring Justice is Served is Trespasser Shooting Cases

Prosecutors and law enforcement will examine an array of factors when attempting to determine if deadly force was justified in shooting a trespasser.  As stated above, self-defense trespassing situations are centered on the reasonability of the property owner’s actions.  Authorities will even go as far as considering the size of the attacker and the attacked party.  As an example, if a 135 pound woman is attacked by a man over six feet in height and 200 pounds, she might be justified in using deadly force as a component of self-defense.

Alternatively, if a large man is attacked by a small woman, there is minimal chance of serious bodily harm resulting.  The court will likely determine shooting a trespasser who is comparably small and unarmed is unjustified.  In short, context matters.  If it is determined a reasonable person would not have shot the trespasser, the property owner will face legal consequences.

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