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Is It Assault If Someone Strikes You First?

Blogs from November, 2020

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If you are charged with assault in Texas – whether the charge is a low-level misdemeanor or a serious felony – you must have high-quality legal counsel at once. Contact San Marcos criminal defense attorney David C. Hardaway at (512) 846-9966 as quickly as possible if you have been arrested for an assault charge.

What can you and your defense lawyer do if you are charged with assault, but the other person struck you first? Can you argue that you were acting legally and in self-defense? Under Texas law, that will depend on the details of the incident and the way you reacted to being struck first.

How Does Texas Define Self-Defense?

Self-defense is an “affirmative” defense to an assault charge. You are affirming that you committed an act that might be considered assault in other circumstances, so your defense attorney, to rebut the assault charge, will have to present convincing evidence that you in fact acted legally and in self-defense. But how, precisely, does the law in Texas define self-defense?

The easiest way to define self-defense is to define what it isn’t. Self-defense is not an act of retaliation. Let’s say that someone knocks you to the ground. If that person does not continue to assault you further and is clearly finished with hurting you after the single punch, you cannot get up and assault that person in retaliation.

Striking someone in retaliation, when that person is no longer threatening you, is considered a second assault. You are allowed to defend yourself against a perceived threat in Texas. You are not allowed to retaliate when the threat to you has passed.

How Much Force is Legal to Use?

Self-defense also cannot be disproportionate. That is, you cannot use any more force than what you reasonably believe is necessary to defend yourself against the perceived danger.

Your perception of immediate danger is central to your self-defense claim. If you believed that your actions were immediately necessary and justifiable to protect yourself from danger, at that moment and in your own eyes, then you acted legally and in self-defense.

Of course, if you claim self-defense as your defense against an assault charge, your lawyer will have to prove to a jury that you honestly believed your actions at that moment were justifiable and necessary.

The Help You Need is Here

Self-defense in Texas, to put it simply, is simply about reasonableness and proportionality. If a jury is persuaded that you acted reasonably to protect yourself, you will be acquitted of an assault charge, but if the jurors believe that you overreacted or that you acted in retaliation, the law requires them to convict you of assault.

If you are placed under arrest and charged with assault, contact the Law Offices of David C. Hardaway – without delay – at (512) 846-9966. San Marcos criminal defense attorney David C. Hardaway offers aggressive and effective defense representation to clients charged with assault in San Marcos, New Braunfels, the entire Austin-to-San Antonio region, and throughout the State of Texas.

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