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Using Mace or Pepper Spray on Trespassers…

January 3, 2010 AZ CCW Laws, Use of Force Issues No Comments

Question: There have been burglaries in the area. We have mace.  If we are approached in our yard, can we use the mace for protection if we feel threatened?

Answer: Generally speaking, you could only use mace or pepper spray in response to an imminent physical threat.  You would need to be justified in using physical force to defend yourself.  This would mean that:

  • There was a credible threat of physical force that might result in injury to you or a third party
  • You were not the aggressor
  • That a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect themselves against the use or attempted use of unlawful force.

Just someone being in your yard is not sufficient justification.  That is only trespass.  One or more of the factors above would have to exist before you could use pepper spray or mace.

Should you have to use mace or pepper spray against someone, you should not approach them as some people are capable of fighting through the effects of the spray.  After deploying the spray, I would immediately get to a safe place.  I would also suggest that you call 911 and ask that law enforcement be sent to your home immediately.  Explain to the operator that you were under threat of physical injury and used pepper spray or mace.  They may also wish to send emergency medical personnel.  If possible give a detailed description of your attacker as they may recover sufficiently to escape before the police arrive on scene.

Finally, if you do decide to deploy pepper spray or mace, understand that there is the possibility of being exposed to the spray yourself.  Most defensive sprays are oil-based and will not wash off with water alone.  In most cases you will need soap and water.  Even after washing, the effects of the spray may linger 15-20 minutes.

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