In 2009, a Fort Worth UPS delivery driver was stabbed to death while making her routine deliveries in the Western Hills North area. She was suddenly attacked by a complete stranger and murdered in broad daylight as a bystander watched. The victim; whose identity remains unidentified by authorities for the sake of privacy was female and a well liked veteran of UPS for over 17 years. Her attacker was a member of “The Lost Boys” gang. The Lost Boys are a group of Sundanese Refugees displaced by the genocide in Sudan and Darfur and relocated by the US government to America in order to repatriate back into society.
The story continues. When the first Law Enforcement Officer arrived on the scene and gave the attacker the order to drop the weapon and surrender, the attacker refused. Immediately after a second female law enforcement officer arrived on scene and gave the very same command the attacker refused once more. This caused the second officer on scene to unholster her taser and use less than lethal force to subdue the attacker. Instead of the attacker falling to the ground from the high voltage of the taser, he lunged at the female officer. This resulted in the male officer; the first officer on scene to fire several times into the attacker. Although, the attacker has been brought to justice and the case is now cold; the issues behind this story still remain hot.
According to Department of Justice statistics every day ther are over 1000 recorded victims of violent crime. Crimes that range from simple assault to armed robbery and forcible rape. According to disaster center.com; in the year 2010 Texas, alone had reported 113,231 violent crimes across the state. According to neighborhood.com Fort Worth reported 4,629 violent crimes in 2010. This information is based on the FBI’s most recent statistics. A basic analysis of the statistics collected show that within Texas more than 90 percent of other communities have a lower crime rate than Fort Worth. With that information having been presented, the purpose of this article is to provide the reader with the appropriate information to educate themselves on their legal rights and boundries when it comes to protecting themselves based on Texas Penal code.
What is Texas Penal Code
The bottom line here is that Texas Penal code is nothing more that the state statute or in simple terms; the law. It is important for every citizen to know their rights especially when it comes to the right to protect themselves. No man, woman or child should fear the law or the repercussions of their actions when faced with a potentially life threatening situation.
Use of Force and Deadly Force
According to Texas Penal Code Chapter 9 subsection 31 or 9.31; Use of force is paraphrased as follows
“a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree he reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force”
Texas Penal Code continues with the use of deadly force as it pertains to the defense of another. Here it clarifies even further the requirements as it pertains to Self Protection.
“A person is justified in using deadly force against an attacker to protect another person if he would be justified to use it to protect himself against an unlawful attack and he reasonably believes his intervention is immediately necessary to protect the other person from serious injury or death.”
Under this subsection of the Texas penal Code the requirements for the defense of another are clarified by stating that the person using force in the protection of another would be justified if he would be justified to use force/ deadly force to protect himself. Clarification goes even further by saying that it is justified if one believes that it is immediately necessary to use force/ deadly force to protect one from SERIOUS BODILY INJURY OR DEATH. This is an important part of the statute.
Bodily Injury vs Serious Bodily Injury
There is a difference between bodily injury and serious bodily injury as it is defined under Texas Penal code.
“§ 1.07. DEFINITIONS.
(a) In this code:
(8) “Bodily injury” means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition”
Serious Bodily Injury
“Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of thefunction of any bodily member or organ.”
These terms are important when it comes to justifying and articulating the self protection measures that one takes when faced with a use of force situation. This writer has studied Penal Code or State Stautes of several states and would like to make note of other important commonly shared terminologies as well. The following two terms are very important when it comes to articulating one’s actions relating to a use of force scenario. The first is Escalation of Force and the Second is Proportionate Force.
Escalation of Force
An Escalation of Force simply put is the application of force in a progressive manner.
A simple definitition of this term is “Force applied in an equal portion” . This means that if somebody pushes you you don’t respond by punching them in the teeth. Instead you may respond with a push; because a push in response to another push is proportionate in nature.
In summary, we can conclude that understanding Texas Penal Code Requirements in regard to use of force and use of deadly force are necessary in order to not only justify but articulate your actions in regard to a use of force scenario. As America and the State of Texas becomes even more sternly bound by legislation on every aspect of our lives and more litigious in nature; we must also grow more sharp when it comes to understanding the system and articulating our actions. District Attorneys and Litigation Attorneys spend their careers playing on words and manipulating definitions this is why it becomes even more important to understand the nature of the beast. Unfortunately; American society and culture has gotten further away from it’s founding roots and has made it most difficult for the common man or woman to justify protecting themselves.
It would also benefit the person who was forced to protect themselves to flee the immediate area of attack and initiate the call to authorities. With that said, have a good attorney’s number ready to call. It may not benefit you to make an immediate statement due to the wearing affects of adrenaline and heightened arousal. Often times good people say things that they wouldn’t normally say or that they just don’t mean immediately after an intense situation. This is why it best to make use of your right to an attorney if the Law Enforcement Officer on scene asks you for a statement. Remember you called them and you are doing the right thing. Perhaps if one finds themselves in a use of force scenario they might be just in stating that they felt the immediate need to put the attacker in a state of mechanical failure in order to neutralize the threat, because one feared that their life may be in danger of serious bodily injury or death.
This concludes this article on The Texas Penal Code in relation to Self Protection. Till next time.