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When Can You Claim Self Defense?

Posted by Carl Ceder | May 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

Assault charges rarely stem from a "straightforward" situation. Bar fights, a brawl in the stadium parking lot, a holiday argument among family gone too far, all can lead to criminal charges. Even if you were defending yourself against a threat, it can be difficult for police on the scene to accurately determine a series of events, and sometimes even in a "straightforward" case of self defense, someone simply out to protect himself could be looking at serious criminal charges.

What Constitutes Self Defense?

Under Texas Law, you have the right to use force against another person if you believe that this force is necessary to prevent that person's use of force against you. You also have the right to use force if you believe you witness a person about to commit a crime such as: kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

In order to successfully claim self defense, your attorney must be able to prove all the elements, including 1) your belief was reasonable 2) you were protecting yourself (or others) from an immediate threat. 

What constitutes a "reasonable" belief? This will depend on the circumstances of your case. Imagine you're walking through a dark alley. A man steps out from behind a dumpster, runs toward you, holding a baseball bat above his head and starts to swing. If you later find out the man was a drunken actor brandishing a soft foam prop bat after play rehearsal, it is still quite plausible that you reasonably believed your life was in danger. 

Also the threat must be immediate. If you are finishing a game of pool in a bar and your opponent tells you the next time you beat her at pool, she's going to introduce you to her brass knuckles, a successful self defense claim probably would not be likely if you hit her with a pool stick for saying so. This threat, while it may be serious, was not indicating an immediate danger.

Do I Have To Run Away?

In some places, there is a "duty to retreat". In our above example dealing with a pool game gone wrong, in some states, if someone did in fact brandish a set of brass knuckles and start to advance upon you, you are under a legal duty to try and leave the area before using force. Texas does NOT have the duty to retreat. You have the right to defend yourself (and others) with force as a first defense, not after you tried to run away but weren't able to.

Dallas/Fort Worth Assault Crimes Defense

Carl David Ceder represents clients who were arrested for assault, domestic violence, and other criminal charges in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area. He knows that there's a lot at stake in these cases, including fines, jail time, and even losing the custody of your kids. If you're facing criminal charges for a situation where you needed to protect yourself or someone else, don't take a deal. Stand up for yourself one more time, by contacting our office online or calling 469-900-0000 today.

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