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Threat of Deadly Force to Protect Property…

November 29, 2008 Crime Avoidance, Legal Issues, Use of Force Issues 1 Comment

Question:  Can you threaten the use of deadly force to protect your property, i.e., someone is breaking into my vehicle?  Could you then hold that person until the police arrive?

Answer:  In general, when answering legal questions of this type, I have to state that I am not an attorney and cannot give legal advice.  I can give you an informed opinion based on my reading of the Arizona Revised Statutes and based on my experience as an Arizona CCW instructor.

The short answer to the above question is ‘no’.  Arizona law does NOT permit the use of deadly force or the threat of deadly force to protect tangible movable property under your possession or control.

Arizona law does permit a person to use either the threat of physical force or actually use physical force to the extent necessary to prevent an attempt to commit or the commission of theft or criminal damage of your property by another person.  I would suggest that just because the law permits you to do so, does not mean it is a good idea.  What would you do if the person attempting to break into your car was physically much larger than you?  Is anything in your vehicle worth placing yourself at the risk of physical injury?  Situations like this can quickly escalate when physical force is used.  What if the thief is armed with a deadly weapon?  Again, is there really anything in your vehicle that is worth risking your life over?

Please don’ t misunderstand my comments.  As a person who spent four years living in downtown Boston, I lost 3 car radios and had three broken windows in a period of less than a year.  It was frustrating and expensive.   Yes, there were times that I wanted to hang out and wait for the perpetrators and see how they liked my “Louisville Slugger”, but reason ultimately prevailed and I stopped leaving my car in places where it was likely to be broken into.  I also did not leave anything in the car that would be attractive to a potential thief.

Either threatening deadly force or the use of deadly force is very serious business.  If it is not justified, you could be charged with Aggravated Assault, which in Arizona is a Class 6 felony punishable by up to 1.5 years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

I’d suggest that crime prevention tactics are probably the key thing here.  Make your car a less attractive target or find a safer place to park it…

If you are interested in the actual law, the specific section of Arizona law is:  ARS 13-408.  Justification; use of physical force in defense of property.

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Jason says:

    Downtown Boston and Phoenix Arizona is “apples and oranges” comparison. Phoenix is a much more violent in the way crimes are committed, hands down.
    Sorry to hear about your “3 stolen car radios and broken windows” However I cannot sympathize with you, I lived in Harlem NY for 13 years, than 17 years in Phoenix. Phoenix is by far a much more dangerous state than any part of NY. These are my opinions, however stats do prove Phoenix is “Ground Zero” for kidnapping-ransom, murder, and drug trafficking, thank you Mexico!.
    The crimes hat occur in Phoenix are anything but random, they are on a different level. Almost all home robberies have been home invasions with families tied up, beaten and murdered. These happen daily in Phoenix. Deadly force or self defense using deadly force, is a must in Arizona. The criminals in AZ are not your average thugs, they are tweeked-out, homocidle killers, looking for a score.

    Deadly force should be used in all cases involving a home invasion, or home break in. Not to mention more than a 1 on 1 attack.
    In AZ, if a criminal has entered your home, you can guarantee they have a deadly weapon on their person. Don’t “roll the dice” to see if the home invader has an equal weapon, shoot to kill!

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