What is force and deadly force, and when is it justified in Texas?
Defining Force and Deadly Force
Surprisingly, force is not defined, and without a definition juries should use the commonly understood meaning; in this case, violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted against another person or thing. So, force occurs anytime a person’s conduct inflicts harm on another or puts another in fear of harm.
Deadly force, on the other hand, is defined. “Deadly force” means force that is intended or known by the actor to cause, or in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing, death or serious bodily injury.
Justified Use of Force
When is force or deadly force justified? We’re going to keep it very simple. Generally, a person would be justified in using force in response to unlawful force, and a person would be justified in using deadly force in response to unlawful deadly force; so long as it is reasonable and immediately necessary under those circumstances.
When the law says immediately necessary, it means right now, without delay, and without time to cool off. When the law says reasonable, it means appropriate under the circumstances.
Additionally, a person is justified in using deadly force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary to prevent the other’s imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.
I hope you have found this quick refresher helpful, but as you know this topic is complex; so, if you have any additional questions call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.