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State Bar of Texas

How the Mutual Combat Law in Texas Can Help Your Defense

Jerry W. Tidwell, Jr.
How the Mutual Combat Law in Texas Can Help Your Defense

Most people are aware that it is illegal to punch someone. But did you know that Texas law actually allows people to agree to mutual combat? In effect, Texas law allows two people to fight and injure each other.

If you are being prosecuted for an assaultive offense, you might be able to claim that you were engaged in mutual combat. This defense could help you win your case or convince the prosecutor to drop the charges against you.

If you’ve been charged with assault, you should contact an experienced criminal assault lawyer for help with your case.

Mutual Combat Statute

The mutual combat law Texas has adopted can be found in section 22.06 of the Texas Penal Code. This section is titled, “Consent as Defense to Assaultive Conduct” and it states that the victim’s consent to fight is a defense to prosecution if:

  • The conduct did not cause serious bodily injury or threaten to cause injury, or
  • The victim knew there was a risk but participated anyway because of his occupation or as part of a medical experiment

The consent does not have to be explicit. Instead, the defense is available if you had a reasonable belief that the victim had consented to fight, based on words and deeds.

Mutual Combat Examples

Let’s apply the law to some factual scenarios to better understand it. Consider the following:

  • After getting into a shouting match in a sports bar, you put down your glass of beer and stand up. The man you are arguing with also stands up, so you make a motion to go outside. The man follows you outside where you both roll up your shirtsleeves and make fists. You then begin to box each other, and you punch the other man a couple times before you both pass out.

Here, you can probably claim that you engaged in mutual combat as a defense to an assault charge. The person you are fighting has implicitly agreed to fight by following outside and making motions that you reasonably believe suggest he wants to fight. Also, you did not cause serious bodily injury during the fight, so it looks like the defense applies.

Here is another example:

  • You and a friend decide to start an amateur fight club. Each week, a group of people gather in your backyard to box each other. One night, you start pummeling your friend, breaking bones in his face and causing other serious injuries. A neighbor calls the police, who arrive on the scene and arrest you.

Here, you probably don’t have a mutual combat defense. Though your friend explicitly agreed to fight, you ended up causing serious bodily injuries. Also, fighting is not part of your “profession,” since the fight club is an amateur operation. If you were part of a boxing league or mixed martial arts league, by contrast, you might be able to raise the mutual combat defense, but here you probably can’t.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in Your Corner

If you have been accused of assault or battery, then the Texas mutual combat law might help your defense. A lot will depend on the evidence you have that the other person agreed to fight you.

Contact a Texas criminal defense attorney right away. At the Tidwell Law Firm, we will represent your interests in your time of need. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

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