Here in AZ, there is no legal duty to retreat. We talk about the morals and ethics of self-defense in the first post in this series, specifically how we have a moral duty to avoid killing. We discuss this a little bit further when we talk about the use of force continuum, and the “Reasonable Person” element. All of these converge together to sort of change how we view typical stand your ground law.
Speaking of the law, let’s take a look:
“13-405. Justification; use of deadly physical force(ARS 13-405, emphasis added)
A. A person is justified in threatening or using deadly physical force against another:
1. If such person would be justified in threatening or using physical force against the other under section 13-404, and
2. When and to the degree a reasonable person would believe that deadly physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly physical force.
B. A person has no duty to retreat before threatening or using deadly physical force pursuant to this section if the person is in a place where the person may legally be and is not engaged in an unlawful act.”
This is the same justification statute we discuss in addressing deadly physical force. However, this time we are concerned more with Paragraph B. Essentially, this statute says we have no legal burden to run away, retreat, etc, before using deadly force. Pretty simple right? Not so fast.
I’d like to take a moment and break down what we’ve discussed in this series so far as it pertains to standing your ground and why simply just because it’s our right and we could, doesn’t mean we always should.
- We talk about being a “Reasonable Person”, and how reasonable people avoid risks, avoid getting into fights, altercations, etc.
- We discuss the elements of deadly force, and how preclusion exhausts all lesser forms of force as either inadequate or unavailable.
- We venture through the use of force continuum, and how avoidance and running away are among the first options available to us as self-defenders.
- We tackled the questions of morality, is self-defense morally just, and right? It is, only as a last resort, defending our own or our family’s lives.
- We examined the scales of justice and discussed how just because its lawful, doesn’t mean its helpful.
These points from across the different facets of self-defense law generally point to a duty to avoid the fight, and run when the option is available, even though it’s not our legal obligation to do so. There are a few situations where fleeing from the fight simply is not an option, such as when your home or occupied vehicle is under attack.
It’s definitely advisable that putting aside pride, ego, and bravado and simply not being there for the fight is a great way to avoid potential death, and legal woes. After all, you win 100% of fights, if you are not there to lose them.
*This is provided as a Legal Information Resource and should not be treated as legal advice.