Self-Defense Justification in Arizona Assault and Violent Crime Cases

In Arizona, a person is justified in using physical force if the force is immediately necessary for that person’s protection. This justification is called self-defense. In a recent case before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, the court found that the defendant did not prove he acted in self-defense during a violent altercation. With only the defendant’s oral testimony as proof of the self-defense, there was ultimately not sufficient evidence to support the defendant’s claim.

Details of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant and the victim in this case got into a verbal argument one day at work. The defendant worked for a beverage company, the victim worked for a grocery store, and the defendant was dropping off beverages at the victim’s store. Because of confusion over the beverages, the individuals started yelling at each other.

The victim told the defendant to leave the store, and the defendant stabbed the victim from behind several times. The defendant then stood on top of the victim and continued to stab and kick him. The victim went to the hospital and sustained several serious injuries. Investigators later reviewed surveillance camera footage and determined that the defendant was the person who assaulted the victim.

Self-Defense Claim

The defendant pled not guilty, and his case went to trial. At trial, the defendant testified that the victim had a “bladed instrument” in his hand during the altercation. According to the defendant, he thought the victim was going to use the bladed instrument against him, so he took it from the victim’s hand and used it in self-defense.

The jury found the defendant guilty to aggravated assault, and he promptly appealed. On appeal, however, the higher court did not find evidence that the bladed instrument indeed belonged to the victim. In fact, said the higher court, no one ever found the instrument used in the assault at all. There was no additional evidence to support the defendant’s claim. The court therefore affirmed the original conviction and sentence.

Succeeding on a self-defense claim involves careful planning and concrete evidence. Oftentimes, oral testimony alone is not enough to succeed on this affirmative defense. If you have committed an assault in self-defense, make sure you have retained an expert, prepared Phoenix violent crimes lawyer that knows how to properly argue your case.

Do You Need a Phoenix Violent Crimes Lawyer in Your Corner?

If you have been charged with assault or another violent crime, you want to have the best representation possible by your side. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we offer experience-based, aggressive representation for each and every one of our clients. Our team takes the necessary time to get to know each case in order to make sure we can prepare the best strategy possible and get the charges dropped. For a free and confidential consultation with an Arizona assault lawyer, give us a call today at 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online “contact us” form to have a member of our team get back to you as soon as possible about your case.


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