It is against the law in Texas to put your hands on another person in an act of violence, to touch them in a way that they would likely deem offensive or to put them in a state of fear for their immediate safety. When you hurt, insult or intimidate another person, Texas prosecutors could pursue assault charges against you.
Some individuals accused of assault can provide an alibi or otherwise raise a question about whether they committed the actions of which they stand accused. Others won’t have that option because there are witnesses, security camera footage, cell phone video or a confession tying them to the altercation.
Are some defendants facing assault charges able to raise a defense based on claims that they acted to protect themselves?
Yes, Texas has robust self-defense laws
Self-defense is a common affirmative defense claim in the Texas criminal courts. Those who do not try to deny their involvement in a scenario but rather disagree with the prosecutor’s interpretation of events may try to convince a judge or jury that they acted in self-defense.
Texas recognizes self-defense claims when someone fears for their immediate safety or has reason to intervene on behalf of another person. You can also engage in an act of physical force to protect your personal property, including your home and your vehicle.
Provided that you have a compelling reason to assert that you acted to protect yourself or others, you could potentially avoid a criminal conviction because your actions fall under the protection of self-defense statutes.
Sometimes, self-defense claims aren’t possible
There are a handful of scenarios in which an individual cannot claim that they acted in self-defense. If an altercation occurred because you were illegally on someone else’s property, you may not be able to claim that you acted in self-defense.
Similarly, other criminal activity prior to the incident could affect the viability of a self-defense claim. Finally, if there is proof that you instigated the altercation or were the one to first make physical contact with the other party, claiming self-defense may not be the best response to your pending charges.
Evaluating different strategies for responding to your criminal charges in Texas can help those hoping to avoid a conviction.