This is my fourth post in my series on how Phoenix residents can defend against violent crime allegations in Arizona. My last post discussed ways to suppress eyewitness identifications in court. Suppressing identification is a crucial issue in many cases involving an act of violence. This post is concerned with asserting your right to self-defense and defense of others. It cannot be stressed enough that if you are charged with a violent offense should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately.
Phoenix defendants may obtain a “not guilty” verdict if they were acting in self defense
Your right to self-defense and defense of others is fundamental and recognized by the state of Arizona. This right is not without limits. If you did not instigate a physical altercation then you may use force in response to an immediate and credible threat of violence. You may not use physical force in response to words alone. This means, if someone insults you (or someone else) then you may not punch them in response. For example, if someone calls you names, denigrates your family or otherwise shouts, yells, or heckles you then you do not have the right to assault them. You must have a reasonable belief that they are going to use physical force against you. Of course, if they have already used physical force against you then you may respond proportionally to defend yourself. Proportionality means if someone punches you in the mouth, you are not authorized to stab them in the gut.
During a Phoenix-area jury trial your lawyer will cross-examine the other party involved and attempt to show that you were required to use force to prevent greater harm. For example, if your accuser is a friend and claims that while the two of you were at a bar, out of nowhere you swung a bottle at his head, hitting him, your lawyer will ask him a series of questions. These questions will include how much he had to drink, why you were at the bar, how long you have known each other and whether or not he has any history of violence and whether or not you slept with his wife. If your friend was angry with you and had a reason to try to harm you, your claim that he was the initial aggressor is stronger.
An experienced violent crimes attorney can help you establish your self-defense claim
Your counsel will interview any witnesses to the fight, gather police reports, visit the scene, review any medical records and collect and evaluate any audio or video recordings. Additionally, your lawyer will review your accuser’s history and discover if any witnesses are aware of his propensity towards violence. Armed with all the information, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can craft cross-examination questions designed to bring out the motives of your accuser and an motives and demonstrate that the events unfolded differently that your accuser stated.
Every case has unique issues and it is important to have experience on your side. It can be overwhelming to face charges of violence in court, especially in a state like Arizona. Contact my office today for a consultation with a Phoenix criminal defense attorney. I also handle cases in the Maricopa County cities of Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert as well as Pima County residents in Tucson.