When backed into a corner, people will often do things that they would never have considered doing before. Normal people can be driven to kill or severely injure others, if they believe that they are in danger. The self-defense claim exists to protect people in situations like these.
In Texas, you are legally justified in using force to defend yourself, other people, or your property. If you are facing criminal charges, criminal lawyers in Houston like DNTrialLaw.com might be able to prove that you were acting in self-defense. But when exactly is this valid?
1. You do not have to get hit – Even if you act first, self-defense is still a valid claim. What if a robber enters your home with a knife, but hasn’t spotted you yet? Or a person you’re arguing with grabs a beer bottle and raises it overhead, intending to strike? No reasonable person would wait until they get injured before acting to protect themselves in these scenarios.
2. The amount of force must be reasonable – You must also prove that your actions were not excessive. In the above two scenarios, it is reasonable to use lethal force against the thief, because you feared for your life. But what if you shot the person with the beer bottle instead? This is much more of a gray area, and there is a chance that prosecutors will use this to build a case against you.
3. The burden of proof – With that said, however, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. They must prove without a reasonable doubt that you were at fault, and that you were not acting in self-defense. Even if your case is shaky, a jury may still acquit you if they find the proof insufficient to give a guilty verdict.
4. Imperfect self-defense – When all else fails, defense attorneys will not attempt to completely eliminate their client’s guilt, but will use self-defense to reduce the charges – from murder to manslaughter, for example. This usually happens when the defendant’s belief that they were in danger was unreasonable, and their actions were excessive.
These four facts are subject to much confusion, so gaining a deeper understanding of them will let you determine whether or not a person’s actions are justified.