Today Steve Toland wraps up his incredible series on justification defenses in Texas. In previous episodes, he explained the rules of self-defense, defense using deadly force, and the castle doctrine. Today, he discusses the defense of third parties.
Third-Party Defense Rule
Texas has some of the most expansive self-defense laws that you’ll find in the country. One of those areas that’s unique is the issue of standing your ground and being able to defend a third party.
The rule in justifying the use of force and defending a third party is that you step into their shoes. The fancy lawyer word for that is subrogate. Essentially, if the person that you’re stepping in for has the right to use self-defense, then you can step in for them and assert that same.
But the same rules of individual self-defense apply:
- It needs to be immediately necessary.
- You could not have been the instigator.
- You can only respond proportionately with the force that was brought upon you.
- You have to be in a legal position and not be breaking the law.
For example, if someone pushes you, you can push them back. If someone exhibits a deadly weapon, then you can respond with a deadly weapon and so on. But it gets tricky. Over the years, the cases we’ve seen with a defensive third party get complicated because what ends up happening is the initial fight ends up in a group fight. Thus, one of the cardinal rules of justification for self-defense is that once you defend yourself, you have to stop. Once the harm is out of the way, you need to stop. Otherwise, the situation can often shift where you become the primary aggressor, and a whole new line of inquiry can begin. Thus, you better make sure that you know the person you’re defending.
You are allowed to step into the shoes of another person and assert the same rights as self-defense, but you must keep in mind that the same rules apply for third party defense.
We hope you have enjoyed this series on defense laws in Texas, as always. I encourage you to call attorney Steve Toland or call us here at Peek & Toland if you have any questions about those issues and
We hope you’ll continue to tune in as we explore new issues moving forward and our show In Your Defense.