♦ Featuring Tips from Authorities: How to Safely Respond (or not) to Road Rage ♦
Our Federal and State Constitutions afford us the right to bear arms, to protect ourselves, our families, and others from immediate harm due to a serious crimes in progress.
So why then, must we be concerned about facing criminal charges if we exercise those rights?
The answer to this question is two-fold.
First there’s a fine line between what we may feel is justified and what the language of the law states is justified.
Second, the police, prosecution, court and jury may not perceive the same imminent threat that we did at the moment the actions were taken.
So while it is true we have the right to protect ourselves, families, homes, and even to prevent a crime, we must be prepared to defend our actions.
In this article , we outline a recent Arizona Court of Appeals case that began as a road rage incident.
The defendant was convicted of Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon. He challenged his conviction based the Appeal on flawed jury instructions provided to the jurors.
At the heart of the case were two important legal concepts, central to the decision by the Trial Court and the Arizona Appeals Court verdicts in this case:
- Arizona’s “Justification – Crime Prevention” Defense in a Road Rage incident;
- The critical impact of Jury Instructions on the verdict.
The discussion topics in this article are broken down into the following 8 segments:
- Incident – Circumstances that led up to the incident;
- Why the Jury got it Wrong/ Why the jury ruled the way they did;
- Appeals Court Extended Summary;
- Arizona’s 15 Justification Defenses;
- Justification Use of Force – Crime Prevention;
- Arizona Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon Laws;
- What to do if you find yourself the target of Road Rage;
- Criminal Defense for AZ Aggravated Assault Charges
Part I – Incident
[Arizona Court of Appeals Division II. No. 2 CA-CR 2014 – 026 7 Filed 8/9/15]
The defendant was driving with his fiancé and her 4 year old daughter in the vehicle.
Following a minor traffic mishap, another driver began honking and tailgating them.
The angry driver (victim) pulled up alongside the defendant’s vehicle in road rage.
The angry driver waved a gun while pulled up next to their vehicle, frightening the passengers.
At the next stop light, the defendant got out of his vehicle, brandishing his own gun.
The defendant stood there, with his gun. He did not move to harm the victim;
The light turned green. The defendant got back in his vehicle, and drove away.
The victim continued to chase him, and ran two red lights in the process.
The victim then called #9-1-1 reported the defendant.
The Police dispatcher repeatedly urged the victim to stop chasing the defendant, and to return to a nearby shopping center to meet an awaiting police officer.
The victim did not immediately obey the dispatcher, but did finally retreat and return to the shopping center.
The victim then took a detour to another area of the shopping center before meeting the officer.
Once stopped, the officer searches the victim’s vehicle but did not find any weapons. The victim denies having a gun.
The defendant was subsequently charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The defendant chose to go to trial to prove his innocence.
The jury found him is “guilty.”
The defendant was convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison for Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon.