Manslaughter is an incredibly serious offense in Texas. Whether you are accused of voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter, you should examine all of your defense options. Depending on the facts of your case, you might be able to argue that you acted in self-defense.
When can I use deadly force in self-defense?
The use of deadly force in self-defense is an important defense to manslaughter charges, but it is not always permissible.
The use of deadly force is only permissible if you reasonably believe the use of deadly force is immediately necessary to protect yourself from another’s use of unlawful deadly force or to stop a person who is committing certain crimes such as murder or sexual assault.
The use of deadly force is immediately necessary if you:
- Reasonably knew or had reason to believe the other person was breaking into your home or was committing or threatening to commit murder, sexual assault or another statutorily enumerated crime against you
- Your use of deadly force was proportional to the threat against you
- You did not provoke the other person
- You yourself were not otherwise doing something illegal
As this shows, the use of deadly force in self-defense is permissible with limitations.
Do I have a duty to retreat?
In Texas, the person doesn’t have a responsibility to retreat before resorting to the use of deadly force in self-defense, as long as you were legally allowed to be present at the place where the deadly force occurred, you did not provoke the other person and you were not doing something illegal at the time. This is referred to as the “castle doctrine.”
Texas permits the use of deadly force in self-defense but only under limited circumstances. Still, it can be a very powerful argument in your defense if you are accused of manslaughter.