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Under what circumstances can I claim self-defense in Texas?

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Generally, physically attacking another person is potentially criminal behavior. However, there are legal and moral grounds upon which you can do this. One of those is if you were compelled to inflict an injury on or kill a person to shield yourself or someone else from harm or death. This legal exception is known as self-defense. 

Self-defense provides a justification for the defendant’s actions rather than condemning them. If you plead not guilty on the grounds of self-defense, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable that your action was, in fact, unnecessary. 

Here are three conditions that you must meet to plead self-defense in Texas.

You were facing imminent harm

To justify self-defense, you must convince the court that there was an imminent threat to your safety or someone else’s. This means that you cannot plead self-defense for inflicting an injury or killing someone who might hurt you in the future. Self-defense is only legal if you are responding to an immediate threat. 

There was reasonable fear of harm

While “reasonable” is relatively subjective, it basically means that any sensible person in your position would generally agree with your assessment that you were actually dealing with a genuine threat of imminent bodily harm or death. 

Your response to the threat was reasonable

Ideally, any counterforce should reasonably match the initial threat for your action to qualify as self-defense. This may also be subjective. You need to ask yourself if any sensible person would agree that your self-defense response under such circumstances was fair. For instance, most people would dispute that it is reasonable to draw a gun and shoot someone who merely shoved you. 

However, there are instances when you can legally use a firearm in self-defense. The law understands that there are situations when killing an aggressor qualifies as a “reasonable” response. You can use deadly force to prevent the following:

  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Violent robbery
  • Sexual assault
  • An attempted use of deadly force against you or someone else

Self-defense is recognized in law. However, when you plead self-defense in court, you must provide evidence to support your claim. With the right evidence, you can prove that the use of force was both reasonable and justified.