Assault or Self-Defense?

Texas defines “assault” as any action which intentionally gives another person cause to believe that you’re trying to harm them physically. Whether or not you actually cause them harm is irrelevant; merely the threat is enough to warrant charges in most cases. Assault can typically wobble between misdemeanor or felony charges, but in either instance you could find yourself facing serious penalties and potentially life-long consequences.

However, there are some instances in which assault can be justified, including using it in “self-defense.” This is an accepted defense, which means it can help you prove you aren’t guilty of your charges. However, this does also involve demonstrating that your actions were in fact justified based on the situation, which is considerably more complex than it might seem.

Affirmative Defense

Self-defense is also known as “affirmative defense” in Texas. The law recognizes two types of affirmative defense: defense of self, and defense of property. Defense of self essentially means that you acted out and committed assault in order to defend your own safety. For example, if you are robbed at gunpoint and you successfully manage to incapacitate the person robbing you with a swift punch to the jaw, you can argue that the robber was threatening you with physical harm (by pointing a gun at you) and that you took action to protect yourself.

Self-defense also applies to defending someone else. Say instead of you being robbed at gunpoint, it’s your significant other. If you’re able to incapacitate the robber on your significant other’s behalf, you can still argue that your actions were justified as the perpetrator was threatening imminent harm to someone else and that your actions prevented it.

Finally, self-defense can also be applied to property. For example, if someone trespasses onto your property in an attempt to steal, vandalize, or otherwise damage your possessions, you have the right to use force in order to protect your property. However, the amount of force you use must also be proportional to the level of harm that’s being threatened. In the trespassing example, you probably wouldn’t be able to reasonably argue that lethal force is a reasonable form of defense. In fact, using lethal force to protect property is nearly impossible to justify in most situations.

Justifying Your Actions

When you’re forced to answer for assault charges, odds are your prosecution will have considerable evidence to demonstrate the fact that you committed assault. That means the onus will be on you as the defendant to show that your assault was justified. This means you’ll need to use things like witness statements, recordings of the incident, and other evidence to be able to show that you acted rationally and within reason based on the circumstances you found yourself in at the time. It’s easy to go overboard when defending yourself, so you need to have a Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer on your side to ensure you give yourself the best possible chance at a successful outcome to your case.

Speak with a lawyer about your charges today! Call The Clark Law Firm at (817) 435-4970 to request a case evaluation.


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