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Claiming Self Defense in Plano, Texas

A lot of people would agree that for an altercation to take place, “it takes two.” Often, words will be said back and forth, things will get heated and before you know it, fists start flying. But then, you have another common scenario.

Sometimes one person remains perfectly calm or rational, while the other person plays “instigator.” Or, one person is 100% innocent, while the other person attacks them.

In these situations, the innocent party has every right to defend themselves, but the problem is that once witnesses realize what’s happening or once law enforcement are called to the scene, all the outsiders can see is two people who got into a physical fight.

Ultimately, both parties are arrested and slapped with criminal charges and this is not fair to the innocent party who was defending himself or herself. In situations like these, it’s important for the person who was initially attacked to claim self-defense in court.

However, merely claiming self-defense isn’t enough, it’s important that the individual is able to convince the court that what they claim is true.

Claiming Self-Defense Under the Texas Penal Code

Fortunately, lawmakers enacted a self-defense statute under Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code. Under this section, a person is justified in using force against another person if they reasonably believed they had to use force to protect themselves against the other person’s unlawful use of force, whether used or attempted.

This self-defense statute applies to these situations:

  1. Someone unlawfully and with force entered or attempted to enter the person’s home, vehicle, or place of employment (Sect. 9.31(1)(A),
  2. Someone unlawfully and with force removed or attempted to remove the person from their home, their vehicle, or their place of employment,
  3. Situations where someone is committing or attempting to commit sexual assault, robbery, kidnapping or murder,
  4. Situations where the person did nothing to provoke the person whom forced was used against, and
  5. Situations where the person was not otherwise engaged in any criminal activity.

Number one listed above is also referred to as Texas’ castle doctrine or “stand your ground” law. Sect. 9.31(1)(A) is the statute that specifically deals with one’s right to protect themselves when they are in their home, their vehicle, or at their place of employment.

Under the Texas Penal Code, using force against another person is not always justified. For instance, force against another is not justified when it’s in response to verbal provocation alone, or when it’s to resist an arrest by a law enforcement officer.

If you are facing criminal charges in Plano or Dallas after you had to defend yourself, we urge you to contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC for a criminal defense consultation.