Self-defense is a legitimate claim when you’re charged with a violent crime like assault or homicide — but only under the right conditions.

Texas is one of the states in this country that has adopted a “Stand Your Ground” approach on this issue. As long as you were legally present wherever the incident occurs, you have no duty whatsoever to retreat. Inside or outside of your home, you generally have a right to defend yourself or others who can’t defend themselves as necessary.

Unless you don’t.

Here are some of the reasons self-defense won’t fly in the wake of charges after you assault someone:

  • You were responding to verbal taunts or other provocations alone.
  • You had consented to the other party’s use of force against you (as in a rough game of some sort).
  • You were resisting a search or arrest by the police — even if that search or arrest wasn’t lawful (except in some excessive force cases)
  • You started the physical confrontation and provoked the other party’s actions (unless you clearly back off and communicate that to the other party)
  • You were carrying a weapon in violation of the law during the encounter.

It’s important to remember that other caveat in Texas law about self-defense about being “legally” wherever you are when an incident happens. In other words, if you rob a home and the owner tries to shoot you with a gun and you respond by stabbing them, you can’t claim self-defense because you weren’t legally in their home in the first place. Texas law generally forbids people claiming self-defense if they were committing a felony at the time.

If you’ve been charged with a violent crime, don’t explain yourself to the police. Invoke your rights and speak to a defense attorney first.