When is self-defense an appropriate argument against assault?

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2020 | Uncategorized

If you are facing charges of assault and battery or aggravated assault, you are right to worry about the consequences of a conviction. However, a conviction should not be a foregone conclusion. You still have the right to build a robust defense against the charges.

One avenue to explore might be self-defense. This will not be an appropriate option in all circumstances, but your North Texas criminal defense attorney may decide to explore this possibility.

What is self-defense?

A legal definition of self-defense is “the right to prevent suffering force or violence through the use of a sufficient level of counteracting force or violence.” But there are many facets and nuances to a self-defense case.

Were your actions self-defense?

All individuals may physically try to protect themselves when under attack. But your actions must only be a response to immediate threats — even verbal ones when the victim fears physical harm.

To be sure, there are limits. Suppose you are standing in line and accidentally jostle somebody or step on their toes. They give you a good shove as a result but do nothing else to escalate the situation. Lashing back at them physically would not be self defense but a retaliatory action on your part.

You also cannot continue to assault someone once their threat to you has been neutralized. If someone is attacking you, you have every right to fight back. But if you land a solid punch and knock out your aggressor, it’s game over. The threat is now neutralized. Any aggression past that point would not be considered legitimate self-defense.

Texans may stand their ground

There are some states that impose a duty to retreat if that can be safely done. However, Texas is a “stand your ground” state. That means that not just in your home or car, but anywhere that you can legally be you have the right to use force, even deadly force, if you did not provoke your attacker initially prior to their lashing out.

This does not give people carte blanche to shoot or maim anyone who looks at them sideways. As you might imagine, police and prosecutors will scrutinize your alleged self-defense actions when determining whether or not to prosecute you. Working together with your criminal defense attorney can allow you to craft the most viable defense to the charges.