Getting The Victims Previous Violent Acts Into Evidence
Under Texas self-defense law the “victim’s” previous violent acts can become admissible at trial under two theories. This type of evidence is extremely favorable to the defense and can be the key to winning a Not Guilty Verdict.
The first theory I will call the “personal knowledge” theory. Under Texas law any fact that the defendant knows about the victim which can explain why the defendant used force to defend himself could become admissible evidence at trial. This would include prior incidents of violence or threats. The criminal attorney should argue that these previous violent acts of the victim which are known to the defendant are admissible because they show how the defendant’s personal knowledge caused him to act. It can also be argued to the Judge that these acts are admissible because they aid the jury in determining if the defendant’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances.
Texas law also allows the defendant to testify about facts he has heard from others to be admitted into evidence. The state can not keep this type of evidence out with a hearsay objection. For example let’s say the defendant is charged with hitting Billy Bad with a bat. Prior to the defendant’s run in with Billy he had heard that the Billy had assaulted some of his friends the previous year. Even though the defendant did not personally witness Billy commit the assaults against his friends he had heard about it and this knowledge went into his decision to use force against the victim and the defendant should be allowed to testify to his knowledge as long as it was one of the factors which caused him to defend himself.