Texas has a surprisingly thorough statute when it comes to claims of assault. Causing physical harm to another person can lead to assault charges, as can offensive physical contact that causes no injury. Actions and words that put someone in fear for their immediate physical safety could also sometimes lead to assault charges.
In scenarios involving allegations of intimidation or physical violence, the person facing charges may want to fight back. Defending against pending charges allows a defendant to preserve their reputation and avoid the consequences of a violent criminal record.
Of course, the prosecutor wouldn’t bring charges against you if they weren’t confident they have the necessary evidence to secure a conviction. You will typically need a strategy to successfully defend against violent criminal charges. Could raising a claim of self-defense be the appropriate strategy for someone accused of assault?
Numerous scenarios could give rise to self-defense claims
Texas generally criminalizes interpersonal violence, but the state also recognizes that people use physical force for the protection of themselves, their personal property and other people. If someone hits you during an argument, turning a verbal altercation physical, you have a right to use physical force if necessary to protect yourself.
Self-defense doesn’t just mean protecting your body from someone’s attack. If someone attempts to steal from you or you encounter a crime against another person in progress, you could use physical force without technically violating Texas law. When you assert that you acted in self-defense, you use an affirmative defense where you acknowledge the evidence that connects you to a crime. Instead of proving you weren’t involved, you seek to change the court’s perspective on the incident.
Mounting an affirmative defense in criminal court based on a claim of self-defense will usually require that a reasonable person would feel threatened in the same situation. Typically, self-defense claims are only possible if you were in compliance with other criminal laws at the time of the incident and did not instigate the physical altercation.
There might be other defense strategies possible
Not every assault case lends itself to self-defense claims. There might be a better defense strategy in your case, depending on the details of the situation. Going over the evidence against you and learning more about Texas state law can help you choose the best defense strategy when facing assault charges.