Violent altercations can take many forms. In Texas, the law allows people to defend themselves when assaulted, but a fine line may exist between self-defense and assault. And then there are situations where violent altercations occur when someone gives consent to physical contact. Under Texas law, it may be possible to use consent as a defense to assault charges.
Consent as defense
Texas law does establish that people involved in consensual activity might engage in violent or physical behavior that otherwise would fall under assault statutes. The law details several criteria where someone could use this defense if charged with an assault.
One example of how the Texas Penal Code – PENAL § 22.06 established a consent defense is visible in the occupation exception. Repeatedly hitting someone in the head in anger in a bar or throwing the patron to the ground could lead to felony charges. However, someone repeatedly hitting an opponent in the head during a boxing match or thrown around in a mixed martial arts match might use occupation as a defense. The same could be the case when the supposed victim received recognized medical treatment or is involved in specific scientific experiments.
An important element
The statute notes another element – the person inflicting harm cannot threaten or attempt to commit serious bodily injury. So, an MMA fighter who gets angry at an opponent and attacks the eyes or attempts to throw the person on their head to hurt them on purpose severely might face assault charges.
Gang members could face exclusion from the statute, and even consensual actions may be violent crimes. Specifically, actions that involve initiations or continued membership in a criminal gang fall outside the defense.
The prosecutor would need to prove elements such as gang membership or that someone intended to hurt another person. If not, guilt beyond a reasonable doubt may not be an achievable verdict.