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Understanding Texas Laws on Self-Defense

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2024 | Criminal Defense

People generally cannot lawfully engage in conduct that they know would harm another person. However, there are limited and unusual circumstances that may justify the use of physical force when interacting with another person.

Texas has self-defense laws that effectively authorize people to use physical force for their own protection in certain scenarios. If those individuals end up facing arrest or prosecution, they can invoke Texas state statutes as part of their defense strategy. In general, people may have a right to use force to protect themselves, their property or other people. Specifically, Texas has two powerful self-defense rules that defendants may need to learn about when strategizing for trial.

The castle doctrine

Despite what some people may claim, the castle doctrine does not take its name from a popular comic book character known for doling out violent punishment to criminals. Instead, the name comes from the colloquialism that a man’s home is his castle.

An individual has the right to defend their residence when other people illegally enter it and seemingly have criminal intent toward the owner, the other occupants or the property itself. Under the castle doctrine, there is no requirement for an individual in their own home to attempt to retreat or flee the situation before using physical force.

If the situation seems like it poses an imminent threat, the homeowner or occupant may have the legal right to use the degree of force they feel necessary to protect themselves and their loved ones. The castle doctrine even authorizes the use of deadly force when the threat seems significant enough to warrant it.

The stand your ground law

Texas is one of the 38 states in the country that recognize the right to stand one’s ground when acting in self-defense. This statute effectively permits an individual to use lethal force to defend themselves when in a public space if they are legally in that location and have not committed a crime or provoked the other party. They do not have a duty to try to leave the situation if they truly believe that they are at immediate risk.

When someone’s defense strategy hinges on the stand your ground law or castle doctrine, they likely need support preparing for trial to protect themselves against worst-case scenarios in which they could serve years in prison. In this way, learning the basics about the Texas state’s approach to self-defense may benefit those accused of harming other people.