Arizona Burglary Law | Employing the Castle Doctrine

Burglary is the act of entering another’s property with the intent to commit theft or another felony.  In Arizona, burglary involves three degrees of transgression: third degree refers to entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a non-residential structure, or in a fenced commercial or residential yard; second degree burglary refers to entering or remaining in or on a residential structure with intent to commit theft or felony. And first degree burglary refers to such crimes when the perpetrator possesses deadly weapons or explosives.

Regardless of the type of burglary being undertaken, a property owner or resident is allowed in the state of Arizona to enact the Castle Doctrine in defense of that property. This legal doctrine means that a person’s home or occupied vehicle or place of work, contains certain protections that may constitute circumstances where deadly force is allowable in defense of the property.

And the use of such deadly force in self-defense can be made without the resident being liable to prosecution by law.

Technically, the doctrine is not a defined legal term, but rather a collection of legal principles that can be employed in the state of Arizona. The term originates with the historic English common law expression established in the seventeenth century, that “an Englishman’s home is his castle.”

A Colorado statute illustrating contemporary employment of the Castle Doctrine was termed the “Make My Day Law” which protects people from any criminal charge or civil suit when using any force, including deadly force, against home invaders.

To employ the Castle Doctrine in Arizona, a resident or property owner must find an intruder who has made or is attempting to make unlawful entry into an occupied residence, vehicle, or business.

This intruder must be acting in an illegal fashion, as the Castle Doctrine does not apply to using force against law enforcement agents.

The property owner or occupant must also reasonably understand that the intruder intends to inflict harm to the occupant or perpetrate a felony such as arson or burglary.

When enacting the Castle Doctrine to preserve property and prevent self-injury, a home owner who has been subject to an intrusion is also provided  immunity from any lawsuit filed on behalf of the assailant for damages or injury.

Arizona’s Castle laws also remove any legal requirement of retreating before using deadly force in one’s home.

The American interpretation of this doctrine, and that which is employed in Arizona means that property owners and residents are entitled to act when threatened with home invasion or burglary, as they see fit to protect themselves and their properties. In general, Arizonians have the natural right to dispose of the aggressor or burglar in any way they see fit, including by the use of deadly force. Arizonians are encouraged to be proactive in taking action if awakened by an intruder or the sound of a burglar alarm being activated.

While calling law enforcement should be a priority, and possibilities of barricading oneself or one’s family out of harms way while waiting for law enforcement to arrive on the scene is recommended, Arizonians are within their full rights to arm themselves with any available weapon from a baseball bat or golf club to a fire arm to confront the invader. The desired result is to neutralize the threat to self and property from the invader, through incapacitation. Striking an intruders eyes, nose, throat, or groin area, disarming or rendering the intruder harmless in any fashion available to the property owner or resident are all acceptable through the invocation of Castle Law.

In Arizona, this doctrine can also be applied outside the home, whenever an individual is under threat of robbery or personal harm. Arizonians have no duty to retreat before using force against robbery or assault; if a person believes he or she is in peril, and the attacker has entered or is trying to enter a home, auto or business, there is no duty to retreat before using force, including deadly force.

Protecting one’s home and property in the state of Arizona is an acceptable duty and right through any means necessary.

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Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2012