Who Has The Burden of Proof In Texas Self-Defense Cases

Texas self-defense law is some times called an ordinary defense as opposed to an affirmative defense. That is important because under Texas law the defense has the burden of proof with an affirmative defense. An example would be the defense of insanity. With an insanity the criminal attorney must present evidence of insanity and bears the burden of proof. In an ordinary defense such as self-defense the criminal attorney must present evidence of self-defense but the burden of persuasion remains on the prosecution. More simply stated if self-defense is raised by the evidence the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defend was not acting in self-defense.

In a self-defense trial the criminal attorney should make this point again and again through out the trial beginning in jury selection. As always the jurors must be asked many question about the burden of proof and what  beyond a reasonable doubt means to them. Following up on this theme the jurors should be informed that the prosecution must prove beyond  reasonable doubt the defendant did not act in self-defense. This will often come as a surprise to jurors. Prosecutors are also sometimes surprised to learn this is the law.

It should be noted the law does not require the prosecution to present additional evidence after the self-defense has been raised. The jury can make their decision based on all the evidence they have heard in the trial.

During argument the criminal attorney must once again emphasis that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self defense. If the state fails to do so or jurors just aren’t sure then the only verdict is not guilty.

If you find your self or a loved one charged with a murder or assault case in which self-defense is an issue you should consult with an experienced Texas self-defense attorney who can advise you on the law of self defense in Texas.


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