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Is self-defense a viable response to an assault charge in Texas?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Texas laws are very strict when it comes to offenses against people, including assault, which involves causing someone bodily harm through intentional or reckless means. Offenses against people may also involve threatening a person with bodily injury or coming into contact with someone in a manner that could be construed as offensive.

For a person who’s facing an assault charge, determining a defense strategy is critical. This strategy must be based on the facts of the case. For some, self-defense might be a possibility.

Legal basis for self-defense

In Texas, defendants can claim self-defense in an assault case under certain conditions. Individuals can use force, including deadly force, when they reasonably believe it is necessary to protect themselves against another’s use or attempted use of unlawful force.

This belief must be reasonable from the standpoint of an ordinary person in the same situation. The key elements involve proving that the defendant wasn’t the aggressor, had a legitimate fear of imminent harm and used a proportionate level of force in response to the threat.

Proving self-defense

To successfully claim self-defense, the defendant must provide evidence supporting their belief that force was necessary. This can include eyewitness testimony, physical evidence or other circumstances demonstrating the perceived threat.

The burden of proof initially lies with the defendant to introduce enough evidence to raise the self-defense issue. Once this is done, the prosecution must then disprove the self-defense claim beyond a reasonable doubt.

Factors such as the nature of the threat, the defendant’s actions leading up to the incident and any available surveillance footage can play crucial roles in establishing or refuting the self-defense claim.

Because these cases are often complex and contain many different elements, it’s typically best for a defendant to seek assistance with developing their defense strategy. There is simply too much at stake to respond to assault charges with a DIY approach.