Disputes or confrontations that end in violence often result in the arrest of one or both parties. Sometimes defendants in Texas who find themselves in this predicament assert that they were acting in self-defense. State law provides criteria for courts to use when deciding if someone charged with assault had good reason to fight back.
Society is willing to forgo prosecution of individuals who acted in self-defense when their use of force was necessary to prevent another person’s use of unlawful force. The circumstances should support your decision that you were in immediate danger.
Your immediate need to act in self-defense could be lawfully recognized if your attacker:
- Tried to enter illegally your home, vehicle, workplace or business
- Tried to remove you by force from your home, vehicle, workplace or business
- Committed or attempted to kidnap, kill, rob, or assault you sexually
Additionally, you must not:
- Provoke the person
- Have been engaged in criminal activity
- Occupy the location illegally
When self-defense is not justified
People accused of assault-related crimes would need to overcome a number of legal restrictions to succeed with a self-defense criminal defense.
You cannot claim self-defense if:
- You were responding solely to verbal attacks.
- You were fighting against a lawful arrest or search, and law enforcement did not use excessive force.
- You consented to the fight.
- You provoked someone to attack you.
Scope of self-defense
Despite the terminology, self-defense may also include protecting your property or another person. When acting to protect a third person from harm, you still have to prove that the threat was immediate and you needed to take action.