Do You Get in Trouble for Self Defense in Texas?

If you get accused of assault or another violent crime, the jury cannot convict you if you demonstrate that you only used force to ward off an immediate threat of violence to yourself or another person or of destruction of your property.

This month, cases where defendants accused of violent crimes claimed self-defense, have dominated news headlines. In Wisconsin, jurors determined that Kyle Rittenhouse acted in self-defense when he killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and injured Gaige Grosskreutz; thus, they returned a verdict of guilty. In Georgia, a jury convicted Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan of murder after they pursued and killed Ahmaud Arbery; the defendants advanced the defense at their trial that they were acting in self-defense. While the laws are slightly different in every state, self-defense is a legally permissible reason to use force, sometimes including deadly force, but only if your actions were for no reason other than to defend yourself, another person, or your property from an immediate threat of violence. If you are facing criminal charges for an offense such as assault or attempted murder, but you were only trying to protect yourself or someone else from an immediate threat of death or injury, contact an Austin violent crimes defense lawyer.

Protecting Yourself and Others From Immediate Threats of Violence

According to Texas law, you have the right to use force, including deadly force, to stop someone from committing murder, kidnapping, aggravated assault, sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery. Self-defense applies whether the person was attacking you or another person. In other words, if you intentionally injure someone to stop them in the act of an attempted kidnapping, rape, or other violent crime, you can still claim that you acted in self-defense, even though you were technically defending a third party.

The Castle Rule

The terms “castle rule,” “stand your ground,” and “no duty to retreat” refer to a Texas legal doctrine where you have the right to use force if someone tries to unlawfully enter your habitation or remove you from it. Your habitation means the main building of your house but not any outlying structures. The force you use cannot exceed the force being used by the intruder.

When the Use of Force Does Not Count as Self Defense

The criteria for self-defense are stricter than they may seem. For example, it is not self-defense if someone attacks you in response to your provocation; it takes two to fight. Likewise, if the attacker backs down or retreats, you must immediately stop using force, because there is no longer an immediate threat.

A Violent Crimes Defense Lawyer Can Help You Advance the Self-Defense Argument

Defending yourself against an immediate threat of violence is not a crime, and neither is defending someone else. A criminal defense lawyer can help you exercise your legal rights when accused of a violent crime. Contact Granger and Mueller in Austin, Texas, or call (512)474-9999.