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When can you argue self-defense in your Texas criminal case?

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2021 | Criminal Defense

If you have been accused of a crime as serious as murder, your primary goal should be to build a strong defense that will ensure that the charge you are facing does not end in a conviction. With a watertight defense, it is possible to have your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

Both federal and Texas laws confer the right to self-defense upon citizens. This entitles you to use proportionate force in response to a physical attack or a threat of bodily harm. But while self-defense is theoretically justifiable, it can be much trickier to determine when this rule applies. Sometimes, a self-defense claim can be so obvious that the defendant may never be charged with a crime. However, there are times that self-defense must be proved in court during the trial.

Important elements of self-defense

In order to claim self-defense, the defendant must prove these three elements:

  • There was an imminent threat to death or bodily harm
  • They had objectively reasonable fear of being injured or killed unless they defended themselves
  • They used a reasonable degree of force under the circumstances

When can you claim self-defense in Texas?

There are a number of instances when you can use claim self-defense in Texas. Here are two of them:

Property protection

Under Texas’ Castle Doctrine, every citizen has a right to protect their property. If a person forcefully breaks into your home, business or car, the law allows you to use immediate and reasonable force to protect your property. You can also use reasonable force to prevent trespass into your property, recover or reclaim a dispossessed property.

Preventing a serious crime

Self-defense law also allows you to use reasonable force to stop or prevent an imminent commission of a crime such as abduction, arson, burglary, rape or robbery. You can also use reasonable force to stop a perpetrator from fleeing the scene of a crime.

Being charged with a criminal offense like murder is a big deal. However, depending on the facts of your case, you can claim self-defense during your trial.