Self Defense and Deadly Force

What is the Law of Self Defense in Texas?

If you find yourself in a violent situation, it is important to understand the full extent of your individual legal right to defend yourself. Self-defense in a life-threatening situation involves a set of factors that must be met before a person may defend him or herself against attack. The question of when can someone use deadly force to defend oneself was recently answered by the Texarkana Court of Appeals in TRAN v. STATE.

In Tran, the defendant shot and killed a man in a nightclub in the DFW area. The story as verified by several witness is as follows. Mr. Tran and a Mr. Nguyen were seated next to each other at the club when Mr. Nguyen struck Mr. Tran in the face with his fist. Mr, Tran was then attacked by several men and pulled a handgun from his pocket in case the attack continued. It is important to note that Mr. Tran was the only individual in the club displaying deadly force. Mr. Tran and Mr. Nguyen’s parties told two different stories about what occurred when Mr. Nguyen was actually shot.

Mr. Tran claims he fired at Mr. Nguyen as Mr. Nguyen ran towards him wielding a chair as a weapon. Mr. Nguyen’s friends who were at the club claim that Mr. Tran ran down Mr. Nguyen and shot him while Mr. Nguyen was unarmed. This distinction is very important because a threat of violence is key in a Texas self-defense case.

When is Deadly Force Justified in Texas?

Under Texas law, the use of deadly force to defend yourself is justified if: 1) the actor would be justified in using deadly force to defend against an attack because the actor reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to protect the actor from the unlawful use of force; or 2) when the actor believes that deadly force is necessary to defend against illegal use of unlawful deadly force. In layman’s terms, this means if the average person is in a situation where someone is using unlawful force, deadly or not, in an attempt to harm the person in question.

In the Tran case, the Court possessed ample evidence that Mr. Tran said something to provoke Mr. Nguyen before the altercation. Under Texas law, a jury may take into account any event that might show that a defendant intended to provoke the person whom they attacked. In this case, the jury properly considered the fact that Mr. Tran provoked Mr. Nguyen before Mr. Tran fatally shot Mr. Nguyen. The jury also took into account the fact that Mr. Tran brought the illegally owned firearm to the nightclub against reason. Because Mr. Tran did not meet the evidence required to show that an average person in that position would fear for his or her safety in the same situation, the court did not overturn his 99-year sentence.

If you have a situation involving a self-defense case or any other criminal law issue, call Guest and Gray Law Firm’s defense team today. Guest and Gray Law Firm is a full service civil and criminal defense law firm serving the entire DFW Metroplex including Dallas, Kaufman, Rockwall and surrounding counties. Our main office is in Forney, Texas where we have served the community since 1967. We also have office locations in Rockwall and Kaufman, Texas. Our team of lawyers is ready to help with any immigration law concern you have.

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