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Using Force Versus Deadly Force Transcript

Hi. I’m Emily Taylor, Independent Program Attorney for Texas LawShield.

Let’s go over the less-than-lethal alternatives to using deadly force. The law will let you use force in some scenarios and deadly force in others.

Deadly force is defined in Texas Penal Code Section 9.01, Subsection 3 as “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.” If you pull the trigger on your firearm, regardless of where the barrel is pointed, it’s always going to be considered deadly force under this definition. If you use deadly force, you have to be justified under the more rigorous demands of Chapter 9 of the Texas Penal Code. And if you use deadly force when only force was allowed by law, you’re going to find yourself in serious trouble.

Force, on the other hand, is allowed by Chapter 9 “when and to the degree you reasonably believe it’s immediately necessary to protect yourself against someone else’s unlawful use of force.” This covers a lot more situations than defensive deadly force. So, what are some uses of less than deadly force you might engage in in self-defense? If you defend yourself with your hands or feet, pepper spray, TASERs, etc., you’ve likely only used force in self-defense and not deadly force.

Be sure that you do not use deadly force in a situation where only force is allowed. If you do, you’re looking at charges for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon or even murder, not to mention the civil lawsuits coming after your hard-earned money.

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