One question we hear more than you might think: “Is murder in self defense okay and when is it not?” Now to be clear, murder is not okay in any scenario; however, there are some situations when causing the death of another person can be justified in the eyes of the law.

Let it be known that a murder charge in Texas is one of the most serious charges you can face. If convicted, the penalties are severe and permanently life-altering. The trial-tested criminal defense attorneys from Thiessen Law Firm are here to discuss when murder in self defense is legally justifed, and the defense strategies used to help those unfairly accused avoid a costly conviction.

When is murder in self defense justified?

According to the Texas Penal Code – PENAL § 9.31, “a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force.” 

In simpler terms, here are the circumstances in which you can claim a murder was committed in self defense:

  • You used the minimum amount of force necessary to defend yourself or others
  • You had reason to believe that using force was necessary to stop the other person’s unlawful use of force
  • You did not provoke the attacker
  • You were not engaged in a crime

Is using deadly force justified in Texas?

Deadly force can also be justified in limited circumstances in Texas law. You can only use deadly force on another individual when you reasonably believe it will stop the following situations:

  • The victim is attempting to use deadly force against you
  • The victim was unlawfully attempting to enter or forcefully remove you from your property (home, vehicle, play of employment)
  • The victim was committing the following crimes:
  • In defense of someone else who is being attacked

Keep reading: How to Beat an Assault Charge in Texas

Defense strategies for murder in self defense

Your attorney is your last line of defense against a murder in self defense charge. With their help, you will need to prove that the amount of force you used against the victim was proportional to the threats you were receiving –– AND that you reasonably believed this person was intending to inflict severe or fatal bodily injury to you or those around you. 

Common self defense murder charge defenses include:

  • Stand Your Ground Law (Castle doctrine): You may have heard the phrase, “Your house is your castle.” In Texas, if you are being threatened in your home, you do not have to retreat from the person who is trying to harm you (also known as duty to retreat). Under the Stand Your Ground Law, you can use equal force (including deadly force) when you reasonably believe someone is attempting to use force in order to unlawfully enter your “habitation.”
  • Lack of intent to kill: You did not intentionally or knowingly cause the death of an individual. In the case of self defense, you were protecting yourself against the other person’s threats and did not intend for that person to die. This defense strategy comes in handy due to the fact that most murder crimes are premeditated, but you’ll never know when you have to defend yourself.
  • You or those around you were in imminent danger: You believe within reason that if you had not used self defense, the victim would have inflicted serious bodily injury or death on you or someone else.
  • Protection of Life or Health: Under this law in Texas, you can use deadly force against another person to protect another person’s life. 

Contact Thiessen Law Firm for Quality Defense for Murder in Self Defense

If you’re facing a murder charge for an act committed in self defense, you’ll need the top Houston criminal defense lawyer to represent you and fight your charges. For quality and aggressive defense, contact Thiessen Law Firm. Mark Thiessen is a Texas Criminal “Super Lawyer” who is Board-Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. With over 100 Not Guilty verdicts, he has the reputation and the results to win your case. 

Call Thiessen Law Firm at 713-864-9000 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with our top defense attorneys. 

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Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.