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Four considerations when pleading self-defense

| Jun 8, 2020 | Firm News

An altercation can happen quickly, before a Texas resident even is aware of what is happening around them. When threats are lodged and violence is possible, an individual may look for opportunities to stop their aggressor and get themselves to safety. Doing so can sometimes involve using force of their own, and when an individual responds to force with action, they may be accused of inflicting an assault on their attacker.

This is the situation in which a person may find themselves charged with assault but able to use self-defense as a legal strategy. Self-defense is recognized by Texas courts as a justification for an individual taking action against another person in order to protect themselves.

Different jurisdictions follow different iterations of the law, and therefore it is important that Texas residents work with attorneys based in the Lonestar State. A Weatherford resident can seek the counsel of a criminal defense attorney with their self-defense questions as this post is informative and offers no legal advice.

1. Self-defense must generally be proportional to the inflicted harm

Harm can come in many forms, from words and threats to assaults with deadly weapons. A Texan may use force as a means of self-defense when they are confronted with an individual who is attempting to commit a violent crime against them. Self-defense may also involve force when a person is protecting themselves in their home or vehicle. However, force, such as the use of a weapon or physical violence, may not be used when an aggressor uses only words to provoke the individual. In this sense, one’s self-defense response must be proportional to the harm that they face.

2. An individual does not have to retreat before using self-defense

In some states, individuals must seek to retreat before they may use force to subdue their attackers. This is generally not the case in Texas. If an individual is in a location where they have the legal right to be, they do not have to leave that location to avoid the threats or attacks of another person. Rather, they may remain and use self-defense to protect themselves.

3. Provocation may nullify a claim of self-defense

Self-defense provides a sound justification for an individual’s actions when another person subjects them to attempted or actual violence.  However, if the party claiming self-defense caused the other to attack them, or provoked them into action, then self-defense may not be an available option.

4. Self-defense can extend to defense of others

A Texan has the right to protect themselves from harm, but they also have the option to protect others when emergency situations occur. When a person encounters an emergency situation that may result in another person’s death, they have the option to use force against the attacker to prevent that from happening. Such force may be life-threatening to the attacker if such action would be proportional to the violence being inflicted.

There are many nuances to the law surrounding self-defense and when it may be applicable in a criminal case. This post does not suggest when or how self-defense should be used. Consultation with a knowledgeable criminal law attorney can help an individual prepare the best possible defense strategy to meet their pending criminal charges.