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Using Self-Defense as a Legal Defense Against Assault Charges

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Texas residents sometimes fear being arrested if they fight back during an assault. The truth is that self-defense can be used in many situations. However, there are limits to when and how it can be effectively claimed as a legal defense. Generally speaking, only the minimum amount of force should be necessary in order for an individual to protect himself.

Imminent Danger

Those who are afraid they are in imminent danger of suffering physical harm are allowed to use reasonable force in order to protect themselves. This means they must believe that they will be harmed on the spot rather than some time later. Verbal threats are not usually enough to justify using self-defense. If retreat is possible, it should be considered first before striking back at an attacker. Those who do fight back should not persist once the perpetrator has surrendered or is clearly defeated.

Use of Deadly Force

The rules become even more stringent when deadly force is used. According to Texas law, deadly force should only be used in extreme circumstances. The criteria for using deadly force is a reasonable belief that there will be serious bodily harm or death if this force is not carried out. The threat of bodily harm or death should be immediate, which means that the individual must act right then in order to prevent injury from happening.

Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine is spelled out in Section 9.01 of the Texas Penal Code, and states that a person is justified in using force whenever another individual illegally enters his or her vehicle or residence. The Castle Doctrine is rooted in the idea that a person’s home is his “castle” and that he has no duty to retreat while inside it. In other words, an unlawful intrusion is justification for a person to feel imminent danger. When a person’s home is broken into, he may use self-defense even if he is not threatened.

Defending Others

In some cases, it could be reasonable to use force when another person faces imminent danger. This could be because that individual is incapable of defending himself or is unaware of the potential harm. Bystanders who defend others need to have reason to believe that harm is imminent unless swift action is taken. Once again, it is imperative that the defender uses only the minimum amount of force necessary in order to ensure another’s safety.

For more information about assault or self-defense, those who have been arrested can talk to Brett Podolsky at 713-227-0087.

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Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky
917 Franklin St. Ste 510
Houston, TX 77002