Domestic Violence and Self Defense

What happens when a victim of domestic violence is accused of killing their abuser?  Watch my 12 News story commenting on this issue.

Gilbert mom Jennifer Sariah Smith is accused of killing her husband after a history of being the victim of domestic violence at his hands.

Fortunately, Arizona protects individuals who have been the victims of abuse and then turn the tables on their abuser.  In addition to Arizona’s standard self defense laws that allow an individual to use force against a threat of force, or to use deadly force against a threat of deadly force, Arizona law also takes into account what would be the reasonable belief of the person who had been the victim of the abuse.

If a case such as this were to go to trial, the jury would be instructed as follows:

“If there have been past acts of domestic violence as defined in A.R.S. § 13-3601, subsection A, against the defendant by the victim, the state of mind of a reasonable person shall be determined from the perspective of a reasonable person who has been a victim of those past acts of domestic violence.”

See 13-415, Ariz. Rev. Stat.