Texas Self-Defense Law
Texas self-defense law can be a powerful weapon when defending a client charged with murder or assault. Every society has laws for self-defense. Juries understand the defense and will actually keep their minds open to it if they hear reasonable evidence. Texas self-defense law is favorable to the defendant and the rules of evidence and case law can enable an experienced criminal lawyer to present powerful evidence to a jury to show the defendant acted in self-defense. Texas self-defense law can be located in the Texas Penal Code in Sections 9.31, 9.32, and 9.33.
Under Texas law if any evidence in a trial has raised self-defense fact issues then the defendant is entitled to have the jury consider whether the defendant acted in self-defense. The experienced Texas criminal lawyer does this by submitting a self-defense charge to the judge for the jurors to consider during deliberations.
Once the issue of self-defense has been raised by the evidence it becomes the prosecutors burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant was not acting in self-defense. The defense has the burden of production and the state has the burden of persuasion. This is an important fact. In other defenses in the Texas Penal Code such has insanity or entrapment, the defendant carries the burden of proof and must prove the defense by a preponderance of the evidence.
Under certain circumstances Texas self-defense law allows the criminal lawyer to offer previous acts of violence committed by the victim to prove why the defendant used force to defend himself. This shifts the focus on the victim and away from the defendant. The greater the amount of bad acts of the victim the criminal lawyer can get before the jury the greater the chance of a not guilty verdict. In reality the criminal lawyer is putting the victim on trial.
I will explore just how a criminal lawyer can introduce this type of evidence in a subsequent post.