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When is self-defense considered reasonable?

On Behalf of | May 17, 2024 | Violent Crimes |

Self-defense is a common defense against a violent crime in Texas, such as assault, battery, domestic violence or murder.

Texas has a rather broad self-defense law. The law states that you are allowed to use self-defense to protect yourself, someone else or your personal property when someone else uses force against you.

However, if you intend to fight criminal charges by arguing self-defense, you must show that self-defense was immediately necessary. You must also show that your belief that you needed to engage in self-defense was reasonable at that moment.

There is no strict definition of what “reasonable” means when it comes to self-defense. It typically depends on the specific facts of the case.

Generally, if you believed that you or someone else would be killed or suffer serious bodily harm if you did not defend yourself, there is a stronger chance your self-defense claim will be successful.

When force is and is not reasonable

Another important consideration is the type of force you use. You are allowed to defend yourself using reasonable force, which again, largely depends on the specific circumstances of your case.

For example, if someone spits on you and you respond by beating them repeatedly with a baseball bat, causing them serious bodily injury, your actions may not be deemed reasonable force to defend yourself. You would likely have a hard time claiming self-defense.

Alternatively, if someone is beating you with a baseball bat and you believe that their intent is to kill you or cause you serious bodily harm, punching or kicking them is likely to be considered reasonable force.

When you should probably not argue self-defense

There are times when a self-defense argument is not likely to work. One is if you are being arrested. If you forcefully resist arrest, self-defense is probably not the best argument.

A second situation involves verbal statements or threats. Generally, self-defense is not a good criminal defense strategy in a situation involving responding to verbal statements with a physical act. A judge or jury would likely rule your force was unreasonable.


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