If I fire a warning shot to scare off a potential burglar, could

If I fire a warning shot to scare off a potential burglar, could I be charged with a crime?

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YUMA, AZ – With the recent attempted burglary where a 22-year-old chased away intruders by firing gun shots into the ground; KSWT News 13 wanted to know how far the law goes to protect homeowners who scare off criminals by firing off warning shots.

According to the Yuma County Sheriff's Department, the law fully protects you if you feel your life is in danger and you shoot an intruder inside of your home. But, the law may not fully protect you if you fire warning shots outside of your house even if you feel you are justifiably chasing away a criminal.

Because the law varies, we should make it clear that in this case the Yuma County Sheriff's tell us the 22-year-old who fired warning shots to chase these burglars away will not be charged.

Sergeant Franklin Pereda tells KSWT News 13, according to Arizona State Law, Article 13 defines justification for self-defense as: "a person is justified in threatening or using physical force... to protect himself against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful physical force." However, the law may not fully protect a home owner or justify self-defense if: "the person withdraws from the encounter..." Meaning a criminal is running away.

In this recent case of the 22-year old who fired shots to chase away burglars, Yuma County Sheriff's tell us because of the nature of the crime and the threat post at the time, the resident will not face any charges. But each case varies and is determined on a case-by-case basis.    

As for the two men arrested for breaking into the home, they made their first court appearance Sunday January 20th. Rigoberto Quiroga, 26, Jesus Arbizo, 28, both face chargers for burglary and criminal trespass. Quiroga is out of custody on $64,000 bonda and Arbizo remains behind bars.

They are both due back in court later this month.

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