What Constitutes Self-defense In Texas?

A shooting suspect in Denton was recently arrested due to an altercation with his roommate. A man initially walked out of his apartment with blood on his hands. He claimed that his injuries were the result of self-defense due to a disagreement with his roommate.

Law enforcement later responded to the scene after reports of gunshots heard inside the home. The suspect who was covered in blood was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after shooting his roommate in the foot with a Glock pistol. The victim was transported to a nearby medical facility with a head injury as well as bullet fragments in his foot.

Questioned by law enforcement at the hospital, the victim revealed that while he was sleeping, the roommate had entered the room with a gun and accused the victim of stealing a speaker. The man then held the victim at gunpoint and repeatedly struck the victim in the head with the pistol. Later, when the victim tried to run outside, the man fired and hit the victim’s foot. Eventually, the victim contacted law enforcement from a nearby phone.

While the man in this case claimed self-defense, it is not likely the grounds that justify self-defense exist in this case. To assist anyone in Denton or any other part of Texas, this article will review the law of self-defense in Texas and when it applies.

Texas Law on Self-Defense

Section 9.02 of the Texas Penal Code defines self-defense as a “defense to prosecution,” which means that in the case of some criminal charges, the defense can be raised as a defense that allows someone escape prosecution.

Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code establishes the requirements for a person to assert a self-defense claim. The force involved with self-defense is justified (to the degree necessary) to protect someone against another person’s use of unlawful force. Also, to use self-defense, a person must believe that use of force is immediately necessary. This means that a person is unable to walk away from the altercation and then later use force.

Texas Limitations on Self-Defense

Texas law acknowledges some particular limitations on the use of force. For one, a person is unable to claim self-defense if he or she provoked the individual against whom force was used. This means that if a person upsets someone to the point of becoming aggressive, the initiator cannot then claim self-defense.

Law in Texas also notes that the force used by a person is limited to the force used by the other individuals involved. This means that a person cannot use a firearm against someone who is trying to fight with a knife.

Texas Laws Concerning Deadly Force

Texas has some specific laws concerning the use of deadly force, which includes actions that are strong enough to seriously injure or kill a person. For example, a person cannot use deadly force unless it is immediately necessary to protect against the other person’s use of deadly force. This means that before you use deadly force, you must reasonably believe that another individual is attempting to use deadly force against you.

A person is also able to use deadly force if it is necessary to stop a person from committing crimes like aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated sexual assault, murder, robbery, and sexual assault.

Deadly force can also be used against someone who unlawfully and with force enters a habitation, vehicle, or place of work.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

While it is true that self-defense law in Texas can be used as a defense to some criminal charges, it only applies in a limited number of circumstances. To assert the defense, many find it particularly helpful to speak with an experienced attorney like the legal counsel at Wheeler Law Office. Contact our law office today to begin taking steps to make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner.

(image courtesy of Rene Bohmer)