Can you face assault charges for self-defense?

| May 21, 2018 | Firm News

Texas has various classifications for assault charges. It can count as a misdemeanor if no physical harm occurred to another human being. However, if the perpetrator directed the assault toward a public servant, such as a police officer, then it automatically becomes a felony.

There are many defenses a person can make against assault charges. One common one is self-defense. However, in order for this defense to have a chance at being successful in court, certain criteria need to be present. 

Factors for self-defense

Whether or not a person will face assault charges when self-defense is at play largely depends upon the jurisdiction. Generally speaking, there are several ways for the accused party to prove self-defense was necessary and was directly responsible for the violence that took place.

First, the accused party can claim the other individual directed a threat to inflict harm. Witnesses can corroborate the story of what precisely the person said and did. Additionally, the accused generally needs to prove this threat was a result of zero provocation. That means if the accused threatened the person first, and that individual responded with another threat, the self-defense claim would likely become harder to utilize. In this instance, the accused would likely be deemed the one who instigated the fight.

Additionally, there generally could not have been another way out of the situation. For example, if a threat is made during a bout of road rage, then the person can easily drive away and not see the perpetrator again. The court would typically view getting out of the vehicle as an unnecessary escalation.

Proportional response

There is also the matter of the event bringing about a proportional response. If one person throws a punch and the other responds in kind, then that might be deemed proportional. One person insulting someone else and then that person brandishing a pistol would most likely be disproportional.

You may wish to have an attorney review the details of your specific case to help you determine the chances of a self-defense claim being successful.