When it comes to protecting yourself or loved ones from physical harm or threat of death, Texas laws give individuals the right to reasonably defend themselves from criminal intruders. Like nearly half of all states in the U.S., Texas has a Stand Your Ground law which allows residents to use force – and in some cases, deadly force— when faced with the imminent threat of serious injury or death.
In 2007, Texas legislators expanded on the “Castle Doctrine,” and removed a Texan’s duty to retreat (while in public areas) before using force in self-defense. This means that if you are legally in any public place whether it’s a supermarket, a cinema, an airport, or standing in your own front yard, you are not required by law to retreat before using force to defend yourself or another person in an attack.
Stand Your Ground Law in Texas
Using the fundamental concepts of the Castle Doctrine—based on the age-old premise that a man’s home is his castle — Texas has created some of the strongest self-defense legislation in the nation, but they do include several provisions for the lawful use of force.
Texas Penal Code Section 9.32 states that a person is justified in using deadly force against another when they reasonably believe that immediate force is necessary to protect themselves or to prevent another person from committing a violent crime such as sexual assault, murder, aggravated robbery or kidnapping.
As outlined by Section 9.31 of Texas Penal Code, a person may use deadly force when they have reasonable belief they are in immediate danger of physical harm or death when an intruder has unlawfully entered their home, their vehicle or at their place of employment or business.
In the context of using deadly force for self-defense in the home, Texas legislation has a narrow definition of one’s “habitation” that does not cover your entire property. The Penal Code defines habitation as “a structure or vehicle adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons; and includes each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle.” As an example, if an intruder broke into a garage that was attached to your home, this would fall under the legal definition of habitation whereas a detached carport would not.
Castle Doctrine Exceptions
There are some notable exceptions to these self-defense laws in Texas. Those who are attempting to raise the Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground protections must demonstrate that they were not involved in any criminal activity greater than a Class C misdemeanor traffic offense at the time of the intrusion/attack, and that they did not provoke the incident. If investigators find that you verbally or physically provoked a person into committing a violent act, you may not be protected.
In sum, you are legally entitled to defend yourself with deadly force and have no duty to retreat if you were not breaking any laws at the time of the incident, had a right to be in the location (public or private), and did not provoke the individual.
Effective criminal defense in Dallas, TX
Texas legislature regarding gun laws and self-defense are complex, but residents should understand that – in most circumstances — the law is on their side when utilizing deadly force to counter an attack in their home, their place of business or their vehicle. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges for assault or property crimes, it’s important to consult an experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer.
Criminal defense attorney Jeff King can help you understand your rights in relation to Texas Stand Your Ground Laws and represents individuals throughout the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Call 469-399-7001 to arrange a free case review today.
Additional “Texas Stand Your Ground Law” Resources:
- Texas Observer, When hatred collides with Texas’ Stand Your Ground law, the result is fatal https://www.texasobserver.org/stand-your-ground-islam-shooting-houston/
- My San Antonio, Texas’ ‘Castle Doctrine’ law protects our citizens http://www.mysanantonio.com/community/northeast/news/article/Texas-Castle-Doctrine-law-protects-our-3507040.php
- KXII News 12, Texas’ Stand Your Ground Law explained http://www.kxii.com/home/headlines/Texoma-Stand-Your-Ground-Law-281028012.html
- Texas Legislation, Penal Code CHAPTER 9. JUSTIFICATION EXCLUDING CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.9.htm#9.32