PHOENIX, AZ (November 30, 2010) - Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery today announced the creation of a Self- Defense Review Committee to evaluate specific cases involving the unlawful discharge of firearms, the defensive display of a weapon, and incidents of physical and deadly force where the right of self-defense has been asserted. Comprised of the same group of senior attorneys in the County Attorney’s Office who currently review officer involved incidents, the Committee will carefully and expeditiously review the facts presented in such cases prior to making final decisions.
“The Self-Defense Review Committee is designed to ensure that citizens legitimately exercising their Second Amendment rights do not incur significant financial and emotional costs as a result of having to defend themselves in the criminal justice system,” Montgomery said. “Reviewing these cases prior to charging whenever possible will also help ensure that the resources of the County Attorney’s Office are utilized to prosecute cases where a crime has actually been committed rather than on cases that ultimately get dismissed or result in an acquittal,” he added.
The objectives of the Self-Defense Review Committee are consistent with statutory laws (sometimes referred to as “Castle Doctrine” or “Stand-Your-Ground” laws) which recognize a citizen’s right to defend his or her family and property without fear of prosecution. Arizona law also justifies the use of both physical and deadly physical force if an individual believes such use is necessary to prevent criminal acts including aggravated assault, sexual assault, armed robbery, child molestation and kidnapping.
“Our recognition of an individual’s right to self-defense will not in any way change the standards we currently follow in determining whether to charge an individual with committing a crime,” Montgomery emphasized. “This office will continue to aggressively pursue cases we believe have a reasonable likelihood of resulting in conviction,” he added.
The creation of the Self-Defense Review Committee is not anticipated to result in any additional cost to the operations of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.