Assault charges may arise in Texas for a host of different reasons. Perhaps a family discussion with siblings turns aggressive and leads to someone calling the cops. Maybe it is a disagreement between spouses that leads to law enforcement intervention. Plenty of people also get arrested after an interaction with someone they don’t know at all.
In scenarios where one person injures another or where one person is afraid for their physical safety, Texas police officers may arrest someone for assault. An assault charge may not be as serious as a homicide offense, but it is still a violent criminal charge that can have a lasting impact on someone’s personal and professional opportunities in life. Defending against those charges may be the only way to avoid criminal penalties and a record that follows someone for life.
One of the more common responses to an assault charge is to raise a claim that one acted in self-defense. When are self-defense claims possible in Texas?
When someone fears for their safety
The most common reason for someone to claim that they acted to protect themselves would involve a situation in which they perceived the other party as an immediate threat to their personal safety. If another individual already made aggressive physical contact with someone, verbally threatened them or menaced them physically, an individual may be able to justify the decision to use physical force to protect themselves. People may also be able to claim defense of third person if they took certain actions in an attempt to protect another person from what they perceived as an immediate threat of bodily harm.
When someone wants to defend their property
Texas law allows for the use of physical force, possibly including lethal force, to defend one’s property from those that intend to steal or destroy it. For example, those who experience a home invasion, such as an attempted burglary, or perhaps a carjacking attempt could justify their use of physical force to protect their property and themselves from the criminal acts of others.
For the courts to allow a self-defense claim, other reasonable people would have to agree that an individual was in harm’s way. Understanding when acts of self-defense are justifiable under Texas law may benefit those preparing to respond to pending assault charges.