In Texas, there are a variety of laws that impact self defense. The Castle Doctrine states that you have no duty to retreat if you are in your home or vehicle and someone uses deadly force against you. This means that if someone breaks into your home or vehicle and threatens you with deadly force, then it’s not a crime to shoot them, for example.
Texas self defense laws come under scrutiny from time to time because they are different than laws in other parts of the country, so let’s take a closer look at them.
Limitations on the Texas Castle Doctrine
Many Texans feel that the state’s self defense laws, like the Castle Doctrine, make them safer against crimes like home invasions, but the law does have some naysayers as well as some limitations.
For example, you must be in fear of death or serious bodily harm and believe force is necessary to protect yourself. You also can’t use disproportionate force, meaning if someone comes after you with a kitchen knife, you can’t defend yourself with a machine gun.
However, if it turns out that an intruder was armed only with a baseball bat but you’re positive they mean to kill you or seriously injure you, then under Texas law, you’re still allowed to shoot them.
Said another way, you can’t use deadly force against any intruder unless they’re about to commit a felony or trespass in your home. Self defense laws are strictly enforced in Texas, and there are a couple of different self defense claims.
Self Defense Laws in Texas
There are essentially two types of justifiable self defense claims that exist in the state. First, there’s express self-defense, where you tell someone that you’re going to use force against them if they don’t stop their actions.
Second, there’s implied or presumed self-defense, where you don’t tell someone that you’re going to use force against them but they reasonably believe that you will use it because of your prior threats or actions, such as drawing a weapon.
If the situation doesn’t call for deadly force, then less lethal options like pepper spray or a stun gun may be deemed more appropriate.
Texas’s Stand Your Ground Law
Texas also has a Stand Your Ground law that makes it legal for you to use deadly force anywhere (you’re allowed to be legally be) when attacked. The person using deadly force must not be engaged in illegal activity at the time of the attack in order for this law to apply, though.
There are a few limitations to the Stand Your Ground Law, too. For example, you are only allowed to use as much force as reasonably necessary to protect yourself or others from being hurt. You can’t use excessive force or go beyond what is needed to repel the attacker.
If you use deadly force against another person who isn’t committing a crime, it’s up to law enforcement whether they will arrest you on manslaughter charges or release you with no charges at all.
This all depends on the circumstances. An attorney can interpret the law and let you know what to expect if you find yourself in this situation.
It’s up for debate whether the Stand Your Ground laws actually increase gun violence or protect individual rights, but some other states do have similar laws on their books now.
Learn How a Lawyer Can Help You If You Violate Texas Self Defense Laws
It’s not uncommon for people to be arrested for violating self defense laws in Texas, but it’s important to understand what happened and what your options are.
You may not have known that you had violated self-defense laws or even that there were self defense laws in Texas. In many cases, people who have been arrested for violating self defense laws were simply protecting themselves against an attacker.
A criminal defense lawyer can help you understand what went wrong and how to proceed. We may be able to help mitigate or even eliminate the charges against you. In addition, we can negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf. We may be able to make a plea deal instead of going through a trial, or we can provide you with legal representation if a trial is necessary.
The lawyers at Hoeller McLaughlin PLLC have seen many cases like yours and are very familiar with all the do’s and don’ts of Texas self defense laws. Reach us at 817-334-7900 or explain your situation using our online form, and we’ll be in touch.