Difference Between Self-Defense and Assault

Texans have no duty to retreat from harm. We have the right to stand our ground and fight back without fear of legal repercussions. Despite this, some authorities believe someone exercising their right to self-defense should be charged with criminal assault. That leads to an interesting question: Can you receive assault charges for self-defense?

We must first define both assault and self-defense so we can determine whether protecting yourself could be considered assault at all.

Definition of Assault in Texas

In Texas, assault is defined as “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another.” To this end, threatening someone with bodily harm is also an element of assault.

What is Considered Self-Defense in Texas?

Self-defense is an exception to assault. Meaning the law recognizes self-defense as a form of assault, but tolerates it under certain circumstances. Meeting the exception requires that someone believe physical force is immediately necessary to protect themselves from the unlawful force of another. Texas has a long list of what it does and does not consider self-defense, but even these codes leave a wide berth for interpretation.

Situations of Self-Defense Leading to Assault Charges

While there are many codes outlining self-defense law, there are two main situations where a case of defense could lead to criminal assault charges.

First, self-defense requires that a would-be victim of unlawful force use only enough force as is necessary to neutralize the threat. For example, disarming a gunman, pinning him down, and shooting him with his own gun would almost certainly be considered unlawful murder.

Second is whether the damages sustained were intentional. Assault charges require “intent, knowledge, or recklessness.” In the split-second decision-making of a life-or-death situation, most people will not demonstrate intent if they cause excessive damage to their assailant’s person.

These cases can get extremely complicated. That’s why anyone charged with criminal assault should have an experienced criminal defense attorney on their side.

If you’re facing assault charges, you might want legal representation. If you’d like an experienced San Antonio assault defense attorney from LaHood Norton Law Group, PLLC to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (210) 797-7700.