Arizona Castle Doctrine explained - In plain English
May 14, 2008 - 3:13 PM
"Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion... in private self-defense."
From her beginning territorial days up until 1997, a person in Arizona was innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Then in 1997, through a quiet and political trick, prosecutors had the law changed in their favor so that people involved in self defense had to admit guilt before proving their own innocence by "justification," which resulted in a complex and extremely expensive legal process for the innocent.
It was a return to the Napoleonic Code, with a relatively small group of prosecutors sneaking this through our legislature without any form of public debate. It was a citizen's worst nightmare and a prosecutor's wet dream. Many of your fellow Arizonans suffered under this law, as it now made it extremely simple for prosecutors to reach a conviction.
The adaptation of the Arizona Castle Doctrine (Senate Bill 1145) reversed the laws back to be in favor of individual citizens, not prosecutors. The Castle Doctrine has 5 main points:
(1) Previously, "justification" defenses, including self-defense, were affirmative defenses. The defendant (or self-defender) had to prove them by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., proof of "more likely true than not). Under SB 1145, if the defense presents "evidence" (quantum undefined) of justification, the prosecution must disprove justification to a "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. This change is not limited to defense of home or car, but applies anywhere.
(2) No duty to retreat before using force to prevent certain serious offenses, including aggravated assault. Again, this applies anywhere, any place a person has a legal right to be, in the language of the law.
(3) A person is presumed to be justified in using force or deadly force if he/she reasonably believes they or another person are in imminent peril and the attacker has entered or is trying to enter a residence or occupied auto. Once again, there is no duty to retreat.
(4) A person is generally presumed to be justified in use of force if the attacker has unlawfully forced his way into residence or car or is trying to do so (with certain exceptions, such as if the person forcing in had a legal right to be in there). This means that justification is automatically presumed when a person uses physical or deadly force against an intruder. It is now the prosecutor’s job to prove there was no justification, which once again falls within our legal system’s concept of innocent until proven guilty.
(5) If the aggressor is foolish enough to sue, and the defender wins, the defender recovers attorney fees and lost income (presumably, lost while at the courthouse). This not limited to the home invasion situation.
Why is the Castle Doctrine necessary?
The Castle Doctrine comes from the idea that "A man's home is his castle", as stated in English Common Law. It establishes that an individual has an undeniable right to use any type of physical force against an attacker or intruder.
The Castle Doctrine established redundancy is to further defend the corresponding law and its original intent. Most importantly, it stops self-important fools like the 9th Circuit Court and biased judges from trying to legislate from the bench.
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