The instinct to defend yourself dates back long before any established legal right to self-defense became a codified statute in the American legal system.
Most people who injure or kill someone while defending themselves have never been in trouble with the law.
Being forced into a position where you must protect yourself against violence is never a situation you choose. Still, it’s sometimes necessary to ensure your safety or the safety of a loved one.
The law of self-defense is often vague, and a law-abiding citizen like you may face a violent criminal charge because you used self-defense.
Self-defense cases can be challenging, and the facts supporting self-defense may not be immediately clear to just any attorney.
Fortunately, the San Antonio criminal defense attorneys at Austin Hagee Law Firm, PLLC are meticulous and strategic former prosecutors who can prepare a comprehensive plan to defend your case.
We will gladly take your call day or night, and we accept new case consultation requests 24/7.
Texas Self-Defense Law
Self-defense statutes originate from the castle doctrine, which dates back to English common law.
The castle doctrine essentially stands for the principle that people can use reasonable force to defend themselves from intruders in their homes (i.e. structures that used to be castles).
Texas’ castle doctrine allows people to defend themselves in their homes or other private property (e.g., their car).
In addition to the castle doctrine, Texas law authorizes you to use the force you reasonably believe is necessary to protect yourself against the use of force or attempted use of force by another. You are only permitted to use this force if you reasonably believe you are in immediate harm.
When Self-Defense Is Presumed Reasonable
Under Texas law, your use of force is presumed reasonable under several circumstances. First, Texas law recognizes that you can use force to protect your home or private property.
You may use appropriate force to defend your property, home, vehicle, or place of business if you believe that someone is illegally entering or attempting to enter your property.
You may also use reasonable force if someone is trying to or does steal something from your property.
Texas law also presumes that you can use reasonable force if you reasonably believe the other person is committing specific serious crimes. These crimes include:
- Aggravated kidnapping,
- Sexual assault,
- Aggravated sexual assault,
- Robbery, or
- Aggravated robbery.
So long as you did not provoke the violence and were not engaged in criminal activity yourself, the law presumes that you had reason to believe that force was necessary under these circumstances.
Self-Defense Must Be Proportionate to the Threat
The amount of force you use must be proportionate to the threat for a valid self-defense strategy. You can only use the amount of force that is reasonably necessary to stop the attack or threat.
For example, if someone pushes you, and you shoot them, a court may consider your deadly force disproportionate to the threat.
An experienced Texas self-defense lawyer can discuss the specifics of your situation and explain the proportionate level of force that could have been used in self-defense in your situation.
Self-Defense Is Limited to the Time of the Threat
Generally, the right to self-defense only lasts for the duration of the immediate threat. In other words, if an armed burglar breaks into your home and a fight erupts, you have the right to defend yourself.
However, suppose in that same situation, the burglar sees you and takes off running down the street.
You cannot chase them down the street and use deadly force because, at that point, you are no longer in immediate harm and the threat would have substantially subsided.
No Duty to Retreat
Some states require you to retreat first before using force in self-defense. Retreating means to remove yourself or attempt to remove yourself from the threatening danger.
In Texas, there is no requirement to retreat first. The use of force is justified as long as you have a reasonable belief that it is immediately necessary for immediate protection from a threat.
In Texas, a jury is not even allowed to consider whether you had an opportunity to retreat before defending yourself.
In all criminal trials, the prosecutor has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime alleged. However, asserting a claim of self-defense shifts the burden of proof to the defendant.
If you assert a self-defense claim, you must prove that you meet one of Texas’ permitted statutory uses of self-defense. This can be very complicated because it’s not your standard criminal defense case.
You should speak with a self-defense attorney with experience fighting for clients who’ve used self-defense as an affirmative defense.
Get in Contact with a San Antonio Self-Defense Attorney Today
At Austin Hagee Law Firm, PLLC, our top priority is our client’s freedom and future. Our goal is to help restore every family we come across by working with our clients as trusted advisors throughout the case process.
We will stop at nothing to uphold your right to use self-defense to protect yourself and those you love. As former prosecutors, we use our experience to your advantage, as we know the playbook of the prosecution.
Contact us to schedule a free, confidential consultation with our team today.