Proving It Was Self-Defense and Not Assault

When someone is prosecuted for assault, they will often claim they were acting in self-defense against another aggressor. In fact, it’s quite common to see self-defense in news stories about people accused of seriously injuring or even killing another person.

For example, in so-called “stand your ground” cases in which someone kills an intruder, the defendant may say they feared for their life and were forced to use a weapon to protect themselves.

If you’ve been charged with assault, it’s important to know that the defense of self-defense can be more complicated than you might realize. Proving you acted in self-defense is much more involved than simply stating as much in court. This is why it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer.

What Is Assault?

First, it helps to know what counts as assault under Texas law. Under the statute in Texas, a person engages in assault when they:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to someone, including a spouse,
  • Intentionally or knowingly threaten another person with imminent bodily injury, including a spouse, or
  • Intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another person when they know or should have reasonably believed the other person would find the contact provocative or offensive.

Under this definition, many different types of behavior can qualify as assault. For example, threatening someone with a baseball bat can be assault even if you don’t actually make contact with the person’s body. Under the law, it’s enough to threaten the person with imminent bodily injury.

Similarly, grabbing a co-worker in a sexually suggestive or violent way or making unwanted touches can rise to the level of assault.

When Is Defending Yourself a Defense to Assault?

When Is Defending Yourself a Defense to Assault?

People who grew up with siblings or those who got into scuffles on the playground might remember a parent, teacher, or principal warning that the person who throws the first punch is the one who gets in trouble — even if the other person “had it coming.”

Generally, this is also true in cases of assault. In most cases, it doesn’t matter how awful or offensive the other person was acting. When the police arrive on the scene, they will typically arrest the person who instigated the assault by throwing a punch or brandishing a weapon.

However, it’s different if the other person brandished a weapon first. In that case, throwing up an arm to protect yourself is self-defense, even if you accidentally strike the other person in the process.

Likewise, you can probably also make a case for self-defense if the other person came at you with arms swinging. If a fist was flying at your face, you have a legal right to protect yourself.

What Do You Need to Prove Self-Defense?

Each case is different, and every case has its own unique set of facts. However, there are several things courts look for when someone has claimed they acted in self-defense in an assault case.

  • Fear of bodily harm – The court will look for evidence that the accused had a reasonable fear that they stood to be physically harmed in some way. The standard calls for an analysis of whether a “reasonable” person would have assumed they were in physical danger at the time of the assault.
  • Imminent threat – If someone believes there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury, they can argue that they acted in self-defense. However, it’s important to note that the threat must be imminent.

    For example, you can’t claim self-defense if you drove to someone’s house and picked a fistfight with them after they threatened you over email three days ago. It’s also not self-defense if the other person begins to assault you, stops their assault, and then you retaliate. When the assault stops, you no longer have a need to defend yourself.

It’s also important to remember that you can’t use disproportionate force when acting in self-defense. If someone comes at you in a bar with a baseball bat, you can’t whip out a flamethrower to defend yourself. Your level of responsive force must be equal or lesser than the level of force the other person is using or threatening.

Use of force is sometimes an issue in cases involving police officers who claim self-defense in police killing or injury cases. In many of these cases, an officer runs afoul of the law by shooting someone who may have threatened the officer but didn’t have a weapon at the time of the shooting. These cases can be controversial for several reasons. Additionally, they tend to involve complicated fact patterns that illustrate just how difficult it can be to successfully argue you acted in self-defense.

I’m guilty, so why do I need a lawyer?

Criminal Defense Attorney Tyler, TX - TLC Law, PLLC

The biggest mistake many defendants make is simply not talking to an attorney. The prosecution must not only prove that you committed the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, a very high burden, but it must do so within the confines of the law, such as by following the Texas and U.S Constitutions, the rules of evidence, the code of criminal procedure and so on. The prosecution can meet this high burden in many cases, which explains why the vast majority of criminal cases plea out, but are you sure your case is one of these? An attorney could very well discover that you have a defense you didn’t know about, that the evidence you think is damning isn’t, that certain evidence could be thrown out, etc. Every case is different, of course, but without talking to a criminal defense attorney you might be missing a valid argument in your favor.

Even if, after talking to an attorney, you’ve decided that a plea agreement is in your best interest, not all plea agreements are created equal. A plea agreement should work for you and your situation. There are many different tools the trade attorneys know, especially those who practice in the area, and this can make a huge difference in your unique situation. For instance, perhaps serving on the weekends is an option, or probation would be too difficult if you move to X county, or perhaps your risk of violating probation makes a short jail stint more enviable. There is no one-size-fits-all option and an attorney can work with you and the prosecution to get the best result.

Can anything be done before I’ve been charged?

Choosing The Best Criminal Defence Lawyer – Librairie Climats

If you were arrested and released on bond, you might be surprised to find that the government (the prosecution) has a great deal of time, if it wishes to use it, to charge you for the offense. Generally, the State of Texas has two years from the offense date to charge for misdemeanors, and three years for many felonies, and some crimes have an unlimited time frame to charge, such as murder and sexual assault of a child. So, you might be out of jail for quite some time before charged via information or indictment (done through a grand jury). In that time you don’t have to sit on your hands and wait. A criminal defense attorney can still be of service even at this stage.

The prosecution may be willing to offer pre-trial diversion, which is probation that, if completed, precludes the filing of a charge in the first place. An attorney can also be helpful in getting your side of the story across when it appears law enforcement is under some misconception as to the facts. Even if an attorney cannot prevent a charge from being filed, he can be a valuable teacher and apprise you of what could happen once you are charged. Just knowing what could happen and what you’re up against is extremely important for your peace of mind in such a troubling time. And last, but certainly not least, an attorney can tell you what rights you have and can advise you want to do…and what not to do.

Post-conviction services

Post-Conviction Relief Miami - Criminal appeal lawyer | Gallardo Law Firm

After conviction, defendants can still sometimes benefit from a criminal defense attorney. Those on probation could try for early release if they’ve completed all conditions of probation. Those who were on deferred adjudication (probation that if completed leads to no conviction), will need what is called an order of non-disclosure to get the arrest and deferred adjudication finding off their record.

Those on parole can face serious consequences if facing revocation and could benefit from an attorney.
And those whose charges were dismissed can try to get the arrest off their record through a petition for expunction of criminal records.

Resources

Texaslawhelp.org is helpful for those that want help with their criminal record (expunction, order of non-disclosure, etc.). I cannot vouch for the forms, as TLC Law is not affiliated with Texas Law Help and it is an organization focused on helping those that don’t/can’t afford an attorney.

Why should you hire the criminal defense lawyer for your DUI case

Although there are so many legal matters which you can handle on your own such as overdue fines, small claim courts, parking tickets, there are others which you will require to consult a professional. DUI is one of the examples where the Utah criminal defense lawyer can assist you to get out of trouble. In Utah, driving while drunk is a serious crime which is punishable by law. In case you are arrested, then hiring a criminal defense lawyer would be the smart choice you will make. A professional Utah DUI lawyer will offer the required legal assistance which you cannot get from a general lawyer. The lawyer can assist you so that you can avoid being convicted for DUI.

What are some of the factors which can increase your likelihood of being convicted?

Proof of drunkenness– In case a police officer testifies that the speed at which you were driving your vehicle indicated that you were drunk. However, in this case, a chemical test must support the testimony of the officer.

High content of alcohol in your blood- In case you are tested and the level of alcohol content is found to be more than 0.08, then you have a higher likelihood of being convicted after undergoing trial. In Utah, you might receive brutal punishment for having a high alcohol content which is beyond the statutory level.

Steps the criminal lawyer will take during a legal process

  • Investing why you were arrested for DUI charges.
  • Validating blood test or breath which has been used to determine the level of alcohol in your body.
  • Analyzing all the instructions which are highlighted for the alleged results and field sobriety test.
  • Submitting the required legal documents.
  • Representing you in court
  • Assisting you to be released from jail by getting bail.
  • Challenging the police officers who might have violated your rights during the arrest.
  • Challenging any results received from the chemical tests of DUI.
  • Challenging the reliability and accuracy of field sobriety tests.
  • Pursuing for acquittal or dismissal.
  • Taking the necessary steps to prevent charges of your potential conviction.

How can you get out DUI?

For you to get out of a DUI you need a criminal lawyer to defend you in court so that the judge can dismiss your case. Some defense strategies can enable the judge to dismiss your case. For instance, the lawyer might find out the evidence is insufficient to prove that you committed the crime of driving while drunk. The lawyer can convince the judge to drop the charges. The lawyer can also place the judge in a position where the only reasonable thing will be to drop the charges.

Why should you hire the criminal defense lawyer?

i) They understand the Utah judicial system

One of the first reason why you should hire experienced criminal defense lawyers once you are found with DUI is that they understand how the entire functioning of the judicial system. The legal system might be confusing even to those individuals who are work in it. The lawyers in Utah can assist you in demystifying the process by offering a free step by step guide for the court proceeding for your case especially if it’s your first time to consult them.

iii) They can assess the conduct of the law enforcement

Even if you observe so many scenes on Facebook, media and TV, it’s difficult for you to understand the strategies that the law enforcements understand to obtain evidence in your criminal case. The best criminal lawyers in Utah can identify all loopholes and blinds concerning your DUI case. These lawyers can easily identify an instance where the police officers infringed your rights since they know the limits.

If there is inadequate evidence, your lawyer can ensure that you are dismissed.

Possible DUI defenses in Utah

i) There was no enough suspicion

The criminal lawyer will investigate the issues surrounding how and when the police officer stopped you to determine if it was legal for you to be stopped. In case the police officer stopped you illegally, then any evidence which will be obtained from that stop will not be accommodated. In Utah the law outlines that for a DUI stop to be legal, the officer must testify that you committed a traffic crime such as over-speeding or the officer must have enough suspicion that you are not okay due to your driving pattern. Normally if the Utah DUI lawyer can set up a successful challenge can you can be dismissed.

ii) Insufficient evidence that you were drunk

For you to be sentenced, the prosecutor must prove that you were under the influence on a controlled substance or alcohol. Despite the level of alcohol content, the lawyer can argue that judge should trust the eyes. This is because they know how a drunk person looks like and they may not know anything concerning how the breath test machine functions. In case the evidence given out has issues, then the lawyer will request for your case to be dismissed.

iii)The checkpoint for the DUI did not meet the standards

The laws in Utah as usually allow the police to conduct sobriety or DUI checkpoint, provided the roadblock meets certain standards which are highlighted on the constitutional. For instance, the standards usually necessitate a law enforcement agency to use written guidelines before coming up with a checkpoint. The guidelines must show how the checkpoint will be conducted and the kind of vehicles which will be stopped in that area. The lawyer will carefully review the operation of the DUI checkpoint to determine if it violated or complied with the important standards.

iv) The tests results were unreliable

In case the prosecutor uses the results of your urine, blood or breath test in court, the test must be administered appropriately using reliable equipment which is calibrated properly. The Utah DUI lawyer will scrutinize the method which was used in testing your urine, blood or breath to determine if the results were reliable and if there were any errors made.

v) You were not driving

Utah DUI law indicates that, if you are found in actual physical control of your vehicle then you might be charged. Such a situation has led to the arrest of many people even though they were not driving. In case you were not driving your car, the criminal lawyer can argue that you were not controlling your car physically when the police officer arrested you.

Reasons for hiring the best Auto Accident attorneys.

The most challenging situation of your life is being involved in a car accident as it can cause a lot of pain, sufferings, and inconvenience especially if the accident has been caused due to the negligence of the other person. As an accident victim, you are entitled to compensation from the negligent person so that it can cover the loss and suffering that you have to bear due to the accident. But most importantly, you will need to look for the best auto accident attorneys who will assist you with the legal matters in the most efficient manner. The attorney will help you in filing a claim with the insurance company so that you will not have to deal with this complicated situation. This is the best way of dealing with your injury because when the attorney will handle the case on your behalf, you will be able to invest your time for complete recovery after the accident. Securing the injury claim is also made possible with the assistance and guidance of an attorney who will help you in reviewing the legal options so that you can select the best option according to your situation.

After being in a car accident, you will need to hire the best auto accident attorneys because you need to get compensation for the serious injuries that you have suffered by you need to hire a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. This is the best way in which you will receive rightful compensation because an attorney will help you to get maximum amount of compensation. A competent attorney will also help you get compensation for the injuries that you have sustained as well as the damage to your vehicle so that you can use the money for recovery and repairs of the car. There are many benefits of hiring an auto accident attorney so that you will get compensation for the lost wages, expensive medical bills and deal with the damages caused to the car or personal property. A qualified and skilled attorney will have immense experience, so that he will be able to represent the accident victims and will also offer valuable assistance during claim process. The attorney will also assist you in protecting your best interests and for maximizing the amount of compensation that you are entitled to so that it will offer you complete peace of mind.

The reason for hiring auto accident attorneys is that these legal professionals have thorough understanding and in dept knowledge of the law relating to car accident so you will be adequately compensated after the accident. They will also gather all the required evidences and proofs that are needed for strengthening your case so that you will get the desirable outcome from the case. It is also the best way of getting fair settlement as the attorney will also handle the insurance claims on your behalf so that you will get money from the insurance company. The attorney will also strive to prove negligence of the accused person so that you will get compensation from the accused person and will prove elements of negligence that led to the accident. The attorney is also experienced in negotiating a fair settlement and will fight for your best interests so that you will get the maximum amount of compensation. The attorney will also help you with the insurance companies for making sure that you will claim for covering the damages so that you will get money needed for your complete recovery. You will get the best representation in the court by the attorney who are knowledgeable and skilled in handling the case so that you will not have to worry about the legal proceedings. Moreover, the attorney will also arrange for special medical examination for accessing your health conditions so that your best interests will be protected. You will get a detailed report by the medical professionals for the exact health problem caused after the accident so that you can seek compensation on the basis of this report. You will not have to worry about settling the case or seeking compensation because the attorney will do everything on your behalf so that you will receive the compensation that you truly deserve.

Standardized Field Sobriety Test

A description of Standardized Field Sobriety Testing posted by Florida DUI Lawyer.*

We, your best resource for a Florida DUI Lawyer, wants you to be well informed. Here is a basic description of Standardized Field Sobriety Testing:

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is a battery of three tests administered and evaluated in a standardized manner to obtain validated indicators of impairment and establish probable cause for arrest. These tests were developed as a result of research sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and conducted by the Southern California Research Institute. A formal program of training was developed and is available through NHTSA to help police officers become more skillful at detecting DWI suspects, describing the behavior of these suspects, and presenting effective testimony in court. Formal administration and accreditation of the program is provided through IACP. 

The three tests of the SFST are:

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) 
  • The walk-and-turn 
  • The one-leg stand.

These tests are administered systematically and are evaluated according to measured responses of the suspect. 

*These are just excerpts of Florida law, and are not meant as a complete resource. They are for informational purposes only

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