Self-defense is a common defense that individuals may be able to use in various criminal cases. For example, individuals charged with assault offenses may raise self-defense in their criminal cases as justification for reducing or dismissing the charges against them. They also may use this defense if their cases proceed to trial. However, state law does place some limits on how you can use this defense in a criminal prosecution and how far you can go to defend yourself in specific situations.
Generally, individuals must use the minimum amount of defense necessary to protect themselves in an altercation or similar incident. By claiming self-defense, you are justifying your unlawful actions in assaulting another person based on violent behavior and threats made by that person. If the steps that you took in self-defense were reasonable based on the circumstances, then you may be successful in using this defense.
In an assault claim, you typically must prove the following to claim self-defense effectively:
- The other person made a threat of unlawful harm or physical violence against you,
- You reasonably felt that you were danger of injury or feared that the other person would injure you,
- You did not threaten harm or provoke the other person, and
- You could not find a way to escape or retreat from the other person to avoid the situation
However, if you initiate a fight, and the other party uses the same amount of force against you, you likely cannot claim self-defense, but the other party could use it as a defense. However, supposed that you started a fight with your fists, but the other party pulls out a gun. That action would elevate the situation to the use of deadly force. As a result, you might be able to use self-defense as a justification for using deadly force against that party.
Similarly, if you get in an argument in a bar and ask the other person to “step outside” to continue resolving your differences, you likely would have a challenging time trying to claim self-defense. In other words, you cannot invite someone to engage in a “duel” and then claim that you were acting in self-defense if you injure the other person.
The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the cases of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges in the state of Texas. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. As a result, we will strive to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys.