If I Have Been Charged with a Violent Crime, Does Self-Defense Apply to My Case?

Violent crimes such as murder and aggravated assault are typically considered as serious felonies; however, there are instances where a person may have acted within his or her rights of self-defense.

In Texas, the use of force (including the use of deadly force) is justified if the individual who used force knew, or had reason to believe, that it was being used against another who was doing any one of the following actions:

  • Enters or attempts to enter a home, vehicle, or business
  • Removes or attempts to remove an individual in a home, vehicle, or business
  • Commits or attempts to commit murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, aggravated robbery, or aggravated kidnapping

There are special rules which govern the use of deadly force, such as using a weapon. In general, you cannot use deadly force unless it’s immediately necessary to protect against the other individual’s use or attempt use of deadly force. In other words, you must reasonably believe someone is attempting to use deadly force against you.

Regarding a “duty to retreat,” a person—who has the right to be present at the location where the force is used—does not have to retreat prior to using force and even deadly force. Keep in mind, self-defense in Texas is not allowed if the person claiming the defense either provoked the individual they were defending against or was engaged in a criminal activity.

The following are examples of when the use of force is not justified in Texas:

  • You respond to verbal provocation alone
  • You consent to the force used by another
  • You provoked the other’s use of unlawful force
  • You sought an explanation from or discussion with the other individual while the actor was carrying a weapon or possessing or transporting a weapon.
  • You resist an unlawful search or arrest by law enforcement.

If you’ve killed or seriously injured another person who was a threat to you, you must consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Texas. For more information, request a free consultation with our Bryan criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. today.