Coyle v. State – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Coyle v. State, 72 S.W. 847 (Tex. Crim. App. 1903), the issue was whether a defendant charged with both assault and affray was entitled to a self-defense jury instruction as to both charges, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas considered whether a trial court erred in refusing to instruct a jury that self-defense is a defense to affray.

In that case, "there was a quarrel between the parties" and conflicting evidence as to whether Coyle or his opponent "occasioned the quarrel." Id. at 848.

Coyle was subsequently charged with two counts: aggravated assault and affray. At the conclusion of his trial, the court "gave a charge on self-defense as applicable to the first count on aggravated assault, but failed to give a charge on self-defense as applicable to the second count on affray, although a charge was requested by Coyle on this subject," whereupon Coyle was convicted of affray but acquitted of aggravated assault. Id. at 847.

Reversing his conviction for affray, the Texas appellate court observed that, under the circumstances, "it should have been left for the jury, under appropriate instructions, to say whether or not Coyle acted in self-defense." Id. at 848.