Texas Mutual Combat Defense

The Texas mutual combat defense is a legal defense that can be used in cases involving physical altercations between two or more individuals. It essentially states that if all parties involved in a fight willingly and knowingly participated in the altercation, they cannot be held criminally liable for any injuries or damages that occurred during the fight.  Consent of all the parties involved in the fight is an essential element to the defense.

For example, if two men get in a heated argument over whether the Cowboys or the Eagles are the best team in the NFC and one says, “You want to take this outside? ” Then other man says, ” Let’s go” and they go outside and start fist fight and the guy who likes the Cowboys decks the Eagles fan. Police see the fight, break it up, and arrest the Cowboy fan. The police always arrest the winner of the fight.

At a trial the criminal lawyer for the defendant can assert the Texas mutual combat defense. The trial judge would give an instruction to the jury that if they believed both parties consented to mutual combat then they should find the defendant Not Guilty. The Texas mutual combat defense doesn’t require both parties to verbally consent. If the defendant had a “reasonable belief” the other person consented, then a jury can find him not guilty. A person can consent by his actions. The jury makes the determination based on the evidence from the trial. If a person is looking for trouble and loses, the law and juries usually don’t have much sympathy for them.

The Texas mutual combat defense law does have its limitations. If the defendant threatened serious bodily injury or inflicted serious bodily injury the jury is instructed, they should not find the victim consented to the mutual combat. For example, if the Dallas Cowboy fan knocked the Eagles fan down and then started kicking him in the head after he couldn’t defend himself and caused serious injuries the Cowboy fan would likely be found guilty. You’re not supposed to kick a man when he’s down.

If the fight is part of an initiation for membership in a criminal street gang the mutual combat defense isn’t allowed. The legislature did not want criminal street gangs to benefit from this defense. Texas and Washington are the only two states that have the mutual combat law.


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