When is self-defense justified?

Self-defense may seem like the default plea put forth when a person is facing assault charges in Edinburg. Because of this, such claims are often met with skepticism. Yet once you have been placed in a position where you (or others in your immediate vicinity) have felt threatened, suddenly such an assertion seems perfectly reasonable. The law does not require that you subject yourself to becoming the victim of a crime (or witness others doing the same) simply to avoid an altercation. The question is when does the law deem self-defense to be justified? 

The answer to that question can be found in Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code. Here it states that you are justified in responding against the threat of force with force in the following situation: 

  • You knew (or had strong reason to believe) that the person against whom force was used had forcefully and unlawfully entered your home, vehicle or place of business, intended to forcefully remove you or another from any of the aforementioned locations, or was engaged in (or had the intent to commit) a violent crime 
  • You did nothing to provoke the person against whom you acted 
  • You were not otherwise engaged in criminal activity at the time 

You cannot claim self-defense if you were the aggressor in an altercation, or your actions were in response to a verbal provocation alone. You are also typically not justified in using force against a peace officer when the officer is attempting to fulfill the duties of their job. There is an exception to this rule, however. You may be justified in defending yourself from such an officer if you feel threatened by actions that your own supposed activity did not warrant.