Self-defense can be a strong argument when you are facing a criminal allegation that involves a crime of violence such as assault. Essentially, arguing self-defense means admitting to committing a violent act, but claiming that the act was justified.
In fact, self-defense is one of the most defenses raised in assault cases. However, it is important that you understand this defense strategy based on the specific circumstances of your case.
What are the limitations of a self-defense claim?
The right to use force (deadly or otherwise) in self-defense is subject to a number of exceptions. For instance, under Texas law you cannot argue self-defense under the following scenarios:
- You provoked the attack or were trespassing on the other party’s property
- You responded to a threat that did not pose a risk of serious bodily harm or death with the use of deadly force
- You assaulted a police officer while they were procedurally executing an arrest
- You were responding to nothing more than verbal provocations
Here are valid scenarios when you can claim self-defense during your assault case:
- An intruder broke into your home, and you responded by using proportional force to protect yourself or your family
- You were attacked in a public place, and you did not have the option to get away, so you responded with proportional force
In general, the reasonableness of your actions is what has to be carefully considered in any self-defense claim. The court will look at both the reasonableness of your fears and your response to the perceived threat to your safety.
If you have been charged with assault in Texas, successfully arguing self-defense can save you from a conviction — but it’s not an effective strategy in all cases. Learning more about how the law works can help you make informed choices about your defense.