Some people find themselves in a situation where someone they are with comes under threat by a hostile party. Avoiding the belligerent person is not possible. It may become necessary to use force to protect the other person from harm or death. Texas law understands this and protects people from prosecution under these circumstances.
Texas Penal Code, Chapter 9, Subchapter C describes the concept of self-defense on behalf of another person. The law lays out reasons why you can act without fear of prosecution, but it also describes when the law will not protect you if you use force.
Using force to protect another
State law is clear that using force against another person is legal if you knew or had a reason to believe that the belligerent party was going to commit illegal acts against someone. These include trying to force the innocent person out of a vehicle or a place of residence or employment. Other acts may include kidnapping, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery or aggravated robbery.
It is important to note that if you use force, you should not have provoked the other party into acting. Additionally, the law states that you should not be committing a crime except for a Class C misdemeanor involving a traffic violation at the time you use force.
Unjustified use of force
Trouble can arise if you use force while violating areas of the law that prohibit the use of force. This can happen if someone only lobs verbal provocation but does not engage in physical violence. You might also face prosecution if the other party wanted to leave or tried to leave the encounter.
The law also does not allow for force against a peace officer conducting an arrest or search or if somebody acts under the peace officer’s direction and in the presence of the officer. However, state law does allow for resistance if the officer uses greater than necessary force to conduct an arrest or search before the subject of the arrest puts up any resistance.
Defending yourself against charges
Sometimes people who act in self-defense or defense of another still face charges of assault. Certain factors like your intention when using force and the availability of witnesses and video evidence will matter a great deal when fighting assault charges.