Self-Defense Laws in the State of Texas
You have probably heard of self-defense concerning the law, but you may not understand the legalities of such an act. In a nutshell, self-defense amounts to a legal justification for using force to protect yourself from another person attempting to harm you via the use of unlawful force. The particulars of self-defense laws, however, can be quite complicated.
You Must Experience a Real Threat of Harm
When it comes to justifying the use force to protect yourself (under the laws of Texas), all of the following apply:
You must reasonably perceive the person whom you attempt to defend yourself from as being a real threat of harm to you.
Bad behavior or verbal provocations alone do not rise to the standard of justifying self-defense.
If you are determined to have provoked the person whom you end up protecting yourself from, a claim of self-defense is not likely to hold.
Seeking a conversation or interaction (while carrying a weapon) with someone whom you already have a dispute is likely to null your justification for self-defense.
Ultimately, you must reasonably believe that you are facing a real threat of being harmed and must reasonably believe that you need to use force to protect yourself for your claim of self-defense to be viable.
You Are Not Required to Retreat
Self-defense laws in Texas do not include the duty to retreat that some states’ laws do. If you have a legal right to be at the location where you are, and you meet the other requirements associated with self-defense, you need not retreat (or attempt to retreat) before you use force in an attempt to protect yourself. This standard is known as a Stand Your Ground law, and many other states share this approach to self-defense.
The Burden of Proof Is on You
Self-defense laws do not absolve you of guilt. Typically, these laws are only invoked after you have been charged with a crime. In most criminal cases, the burden of proof – beyond a reasonable doubt – is on the prosecution. Self-defense, however, is known as an affirmative defense, which means that you will need to provide evidence in support of your claim of justifiable self-defense. It becomes the prosecution’s goal to disprove your offerings. Because the state has wide discretion when it comes to pursuing cases and because it has an ethical duty to seek justice – not convictions – it will often fail to bring charges or drop the charges when it deems a defendant’s actions genuinely in self-defense.
Schedule a Consult with an Experienced Killeen Criminal Lawyer Today
If you have been accused of a crime, Brett Pritchard, at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Killeen, Texas – is a formidable criminal lawyer who is dedicated to helping clients like you obtain their most favorable case resolutions. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.