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Arguing self-defense in a violent crime case

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2022 | Assault/Domestic Violence

It doesn’t take long for a verbal altercation to escalate to the point that it becomes physical in nature. And when this happens, you can quickly find yourself on the receiving end of criminal charges. If you’re not prepared to aggressively defend yourself against these allegations, then you could be subjected to significant penalties including prison time, fines, employment issues, and decreased access to your children. The ramifications are very real and wide-ranging. Therefore, if you want to protect yourself as much as possible, then you need to consider your best criminal defense options.

Is self-defense a viable criminal defense strategy in your case?

When accused of a violent crime, one option at your disposal may be self-defense. Texas law allows for the use of force under certain circumstances, more specifically when you reasonably believe that the use of force is immediately necessary to protect yourself or someone else from another individual’s use of illegal force. Therefore, if you reasonably believe that you’re about to be attacked, as is the case in many domestic violence cases, for example, then you may be justified in acting to defend yourself.

Before you can raise self-defense, you need to be aware of some key issues in these types of cases. For example, you’ll have to be able to show that you used the least amount of force necessary to repel the unlawful force that’s being used against you. In other words, your response to the attack can’t be excessive in nature.

Also, you’ll have to show that your belief that the use of force was necessary was reasonable. This is going to be a case-by-case determination, and the appropriateness of your actions will likely be assessed by a jury.

Are there times when self-defense isn’t justified?

Yes. If you were the initial aggressor in the altercation, then you can’t avail yourself of a self-defense argument. Therefore, you’ll have to be prepared to argue this point at trial since the prosecution is probably going to try to argue that you were responsible for initiating the dispute to begin with. Additionally, you can’t argue self-defense if you were involved in a crime at the time of the alleged use of force.

Do you have a duty to retreat?

No. Texas is known as a “stand your ground” state, which means that you don’t have to try to withdraw from the altercation before using force to defend yourself. You just have to keep in mind that you can’t be the initial aggressor and you can’t be taking part in a crime if you hope to successfully use self-defense as a criminal defense argument.

What about deadly force?

Texas allows you to lawfully use deadly force in some circumstances, too. However, this type of use is limited to circumstances where you reasonably believe that it is necessary to defend against things such as:

  • Murder
  • Sexual assault
  • Robbery
  • Kidnapping

Again, there are going to be a number of restrictions on this use of force, which you can discuss with your attorney if you want to learn more about it.

Put forth the strongest criminal defense possible under your set of circumstances

There’s a lot at stake when you’re accused of committing a violent crime. That’s why you have to zealously defend yourself. While self-defense might be a viable option for you, you have to know how to navigate the law and craft persuasive arguments if you want to maximize your chances of presenting a successful defense.