Necessity As a Defense in Arizona Criminal Law

Necessity As a Defense in Arizona Criminal Law

In certain instances or for certain crimes, there are specific defenses that can be used to combat the State’s prosecution. The Arizona criminal code allows for a necessity defense, which essentially justifies the behavior in question. A successful necessity defense will prevent conviction for the crime charged.

Under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-417 Necessity defense:

  • Conduct that would otherwise constitute an offense is justified if a reasonable person was compelled to engage in the proscribed conduct and the person had no reasonable alternative to avoid imminent public or private injury greater than the injury that might reasonably result from the person’s own conduct.
  • An accused person may not assert the defense under subsection A if the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly placed himself in the situation in which it was probable that the person would have to engage in the proscribed conduct.
  • An accused person may not assert the defense under subsection A for offenses involving homicide or serious physical injury.

The necessity defense can be used to defend against criminal prosecution when a reasonable defendant’s actions are justified, and they were in a situation where they determined that engaging in the conduct – that would otherwise constitute a crime – was going to cause less injury than not engaging in the conduct. This legal defense allows a defendant to avoid being found guilty so long as they can show there was sufficiently good reason for engaging in the criminal activity.

For example, say a person destroys a dam to prevent more valuable property from being destroyed by flooding. It is a crime to destroy the dam. However, if the person can assert the necessity defense by showing that their actions were to prevent greater injury to the public and that there was no reasonable alternative, then they will not be convicted for destroying the dam.

Arizona’s statutory necessity defense cannot be asserted in homicide cases or when the defendant’s actions caused serious physical injury to another person.

Defending Against Criminal Charges

If you are charged with a crime, it is critical that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Conviction for a crime can carry severe penalties, including imprisonment and hefty fines. Your freedom is on the line.

As a former fraud prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office, Ashley D. Adams understands the government’s tactics and knows how to establish the best possible defense for your case. Given her prior work, she also has a longstanding and positive relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Department of Justice. Put Ashley D. Adam’s experience to work for you.

If you are facing charges for any white collar crime, we urge you to contact us right away for a consultation. The sooner we begin our investigation, the sooner we can implement all available legal strategies to defend you.

Contact us or call now (480) 219-1366 for a case evaluation.


Our firm handles state criminal cases throughout Arizona and federal criminal cases throughout the United States, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, and California.