When Is a Gun Crime Considered Self-Defense in Texas?
Self-defense is a route that can be used to constitute several gun crimes in Texas, including assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, and murder. This defense method can be difficult to prove, but if executed successfully, can relieve an individual of all criminal charges. When is a gun crime considered self-defense in Texas?
Use of deadly force, including allegations involving a gun, have the potential to be deemed self-defense if an individual truly believed that a critically dangerous situation was underway. This involves being the victim of, or witnessing, a serious crime.
Justifiable Force May Apply in Cases of:
- Aggravated Robbery
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Kidnapping
Justifiable force is not a feasible defense mechanism if an individual assaults another person first, provokes the individual, and/or chooses not to flee the scene.
To Protect Yourself
Texas law states that an individual can use immediate and necessary force to protect themselves against another individual. This defense method is most successful when the alleged attack occurred in the individual’s home. However, there are stipulations to this law that determine whether or not the use of force was necessary.
Texans Can Only Claim Self-Defense If They:
- Truly Believed It Was Necessary
- Were Not in the Act of a Crime
- Did Not Provoke the Individual to Attack Them
They must also be able to prove that a gun was the minimal amount of force necessary to defend themselves during the attack. Self-defense cannot be used in cases in which the amount of force used is disproportionate to the initial assault.
To Defend Your Property
Texas is a stand your ground state. This means that an individual is not required to attempt to flee an attacker if the assault occurs inside their home, vehicle, or place of employment. This is true only if the defendant did not provoke the victim and was not engaged in a crime (traffic violations are exempt).
The defendant must also believe that the intruder was unlawfully breaking and entering their property in an attempt to harm and/or remove them.
To Protect Another Individual
Self-defense may also be applicable in cases in which an individual witnessed another individual being attacked. The same circumstantial stipulations that are required for protection of oneself must apply. The defendant who witnessed the attack must truly believe that immediate intervention was necessary to protect the other individual from potentially deadly harm.
Notable Self-Defense Cases in Texas
In self-defense cases, the prosecution will attempt to prove that the defendant did not act out of self-defense. A criminal defense attorney will need to convince the jury, using reasonable doubt, that the defendant may have been protecting themselves or another individual from life-threatening harm. This reasonable doubt can save a defendant from allegations that have the potential to put them behind bars for decades.
The following are notable criminal cases in Texas history in which self-defense was executed as a successful defense route.
John Hughes faced charges for murder when he shot and killed Rodney Johnson in his vehicle on September 17, 1986. There was a shotgun found in the floorboard of Johnson’s pickup truck, but it had not been discharged. A woman by the last name of Goodwin that was romantically involved with Hughes was present during the incident. She testified that Johnson had threatened to kill her before the alleged murder occurred and that Hughes was protecting her from a deadly attack.
The jury found Hughes guilty on lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter and the judge sentenced him to twenty years of confinement.
Cesar Gamino faced charges for assault with a deadly weapon after he and girlfriend had an encounter with 3 men on a street corner after leaving a local bar. The prosecutions claimed that the men made lewd comments from a movie and that Gamino believed they were talking about his girlfriend. He then allegedly returned and pointed a gun at the men.
Gamino testified that the men came after him and his girlfriend and threatened to sexually assault her. He claimed that the reason he grabbed a gun was to scare the men away.
The charge of assault with a deadly weapon was reversed.
Gallian Defense Firm
You need the best defense attorney in your corner to beat serious criminal charges. Gregg Gallian is an experienced criminal defense attorney serving Dallas, TX and surrounding areas. Contact Gallian Defense Firm today for a free consultation or case review if you are facing charges for any crime that could jeopardize your freedom.