Violent offenses are among the most serious charges a person could face. Accusations of assault, manslaughter or homicide could lead to a lengthy prison sentence. The stigma associated with a violent criminal record is also hard to ignore.
Those accused of a violent act in Texas may insist that they did not intend harm or violate the law. Every individual accused of a criminal offense has the right to a presumption of innocence and to mount a defense in criminal court.
Sometimes, a violent act does occur willfully but only because the actor was trying to defend themselves against violence or a threat of violence. If there is clear evidence connecting someone to a crime scene in Texas, could they raise claims of self-defense to avoid conviction?
Texas has broad self-defense laws
There are numerous scenarios that may lead to a viable self-defense claim by a Texas criminal defendant. The most straightforward is a scenario in which an individual reasonably feared for their own safety.
State law in Texas authorizes the use of physical force, sometimes including lethal force, when a person believes they are in imminent danger of harm. Especially if someone believes the other party intends to cause grave bodily injury, state law does permit the use of physical force to defend oneself.
There are two other situations that might also help someone defend against violent charges through self-defense claims. The first is when there was a threat to someone’s property. Someone facing a mugging or a carjacking could fend off someone else physically if they deem it necessary to protect themselves and their property.
It is also lawful for someone to intervene when they witness a crime victimizing someone else. Someone who stops at a gas station and witnesses a robbery in progress could intervene to protect the clerk or other patrons.
What makes self-defense claims different
Asserting to the courts that someone acted to defend themselves, their property or other innocent people is different than a standard criminal defense. Instead of raising questions about whether someone did something illegal, the goal is instead to reframe the situation and make it clear that their actions did not violate Texas state statutes at all.
Self-defense claims are a form of affirmative defense, and they require careful planning and the proper presentation of evidence about someone’s experience and state of mind. Learning more about Texas state laws can help people hoping to defend against accusations of a violent crime.