Act Of God Defense In Texas

Different strategies can help clear up or reduce the liability of the accused. One such strategy, which is sometimes overlooked but can be very important, is the Act of God defense. This legal concept, which has been around for a long time, argues that certain uncontrollable events can excuse individuals from liability. In Texas, understanding this defense can be crucial for anyone facing charges related to events called “Acts of God.”

What is the Act of God Defense?

The Act of God Defense, sometimes called an “Act of God Criminal Defense” or “God Defense,” is based on the idea that natural disasters and other uncontrollable events can remove or lessen liability. These “acts of God” include natural events like lightning strikes, heavy rain, and other severe weather events. The main point is that these events are beyond human control, which means individuals can’t be held responsible for them.

When is the Act of God Defense Applicable?

To successfully invoke the Act of God defense in Texas, the event in question must meet specific criteria:

  1. Natural Event: The occurrence must be a natural disaster or a similar uncontrollable event. Examples include hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and lightning strikes.
  2. Unpredictability: The event must be unpredictable and unavoidable. Even with modern technology and forecasting, some natural events can still be deemed unforeseeable.
  3. No Human Intervention: The incident must occur without any human agency or intervention. This means that if human actions contributed to the event, the defense may not hold.
  4. Direct Cause: The natural event must be the direct cause of the incident or damage. There should be a clear link between the Act of God and the alleged crime or liability.
  5. Defendant’s Negligence and Proximate Cause: The defendant’s carelessness contributed to causing the injuries.

Examples of Act of God Defense in Action

Lightning Strikes and Property Damage

Consider a scenario where a lightning strike causes a fire, leading to property damage. If an individual is accused of arson, they could argue that the lightning strike, an act of God, was the actual cause of the fire. This defense could absolve them of criminal liability.

Heavy Rain and Car Accidents

In cases where heavy rain leads to a car accident, the driver might invoke the Act of God defense. If the weather conditions were so severe that the accident was unavoidable despite exercising reasonable care, the defense could mitigate the driver’s liability.

The Act of God defense is a valid but challenging defense in Texas. This defense only applies if the event was purely natural and uncontrollable by humans. If a natural event solely caused the injury, the defense is applicable. However, if the injury was a result of both a natural event and human negligence, the defense is not valid. For instance, careless driving is not considered an Act of God.

Examples of events considered Acts of God in Texas include:

  • Earthquakes
  • Tornadoes
  • Hurricanes
  • Tsunamis
  • Floods
  • Wildfires
  • Fires caused by lightning strikes
  • Extreme weather conditions, such as heavy snow or blizzards
  • Pandemics

Act of God vs. Negligence

Determining whether an accident was caused by an act of God, negligence, or a combination of both can sometimes be challenging.

A pure act of God is typically an event that humans cannot control or prevent. For instance, if a tornado lifts a car and hurls it into a house, the resulting damage would likely be seen as an act of God. The car’s owner wasn’t driving and couldn’t have stopped the accident.

On the other hand, if a homeowner ignores a dead tree on their property and a storm then blows the tree onto their house, they could be held liable. The homeowner should have known the tree could fall and taken action to remove it.

Building a Strong Case

To build a robust Act of God defense, an attorney might:

  1. Collect Weather Data: This includes historical weather reports and expert testimony to establish the occurrence and severity of the natural event.
  2. Analyze Evidence: Review physical evidence, such as the aftermath of a lightning strike or flood damage, to show the direct impact of the event.
  3. Expert Testimony: Engaging experts in meteorology or structural engineering to provide testimony on the event’s unpredictability and unavoidability.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

Facing criminal charges in Texas due to an “Act of God” event? Don’t navigate the legal system alone. Our experienced attorneys at Texas Criminal Defense Group are here to support you. We’ll help you understand your rights and craft a strong defense. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us fight for your rights.