Stand Your Ground Law – Texas

Texas, as you are probably expecting from a state that emphasizes rugged individualism is possessed of very good self-defense laws, and that definitely includes a stand-your-ground provision.

Texas does not mince words when it comes to self-defense, and if a citizen is being threatened with the unlawful use of force, they have the right to defend themselves, period.

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This naturally extends into the use of lethal force on defense, and as long as the defender can articulate a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury due to deadly force being used against them they may defend themselves any place that they have a right to be so long as they are not engaged in any other unlawful activity or were otherwise participating in a mutual combat.

Everything you need to know about Texas’ stand your ground law is below.

What You Need to Know

  • Citizens in Texas may use lethal force in response to a lethal threat against themselves or someone else so long as they are being threatened with deadly force in kind.
  • Texas also allows the use of lethal force in response to certain forcible felonies, specifically ones of an aggravated nature.
  • There is no obligation to retreat before the justifiable use of deadly force in self-defense so long as a person has a right to be in the place where they are when unlawful deadly force is used or threatened against them.

General Provisions

Texas is another state that has self-defense and stand-your-ground laws that are of an increasingly standardized type. This is a good thing, as these laws only place citizens on better ground to defend and justify their actions. In other, less free states the use of force in defense is nearly treated as a crime unto itself.

Simply stated, a person that is any place they have a legal, lawful right to be may use lethal force in self-defense without any obligation whatsoever to retreat if they, or a third party, are threatened with the imminent and legitimate use of deadly force, and believes that the use of such force is necessary to prevent harm.

Texas defines deadly force as any force capable of inflicting death or great bodily injury. This applies pretty much everywhere, and definitely when a would-be victim is occupying their home, place of business or vehicle.

Texas also allows the use of lethal defensive force to prevent the commission or imminent commission of certain forcible felons, with specifically named examples being aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery and aggravated robbery.

Restrictions

Contrary to the assertions of certain pearl-clutchers who would prefer we all remain good little victims at the hands of amoral criminal scumbags, Texas is no longer the Wild West and is far from a free fire zone. There are restrictions, considerable ones, on the use of lethal force even in extremis.

For instance, a person may not use lethal force in self-defense if they are otherwise engaged in any unlawful activity (outside of a Class C misdemeanor), they may not use force including lethal force in response to any verbal provocation alone, they may not employ force including lethal force if they were the initial antagonist in a confrontation or otherwise engaged in mutual combat.

Assessment

Texas law concerning self-defense is particularly excellent, and includes a dependable stand-your-ground provision.

So long as a person is defending themselves or someone else against the unlawful use of deadly force by another person, or against the commission of a forcible felony as outlined above, they may use defensive lethal force to halt the attack if they believe it is necessary to do so.

Relevant Texas Use of Force Statutes

Sec. 9.01. DEFINITIONS.

In this chapter:

(1) “Custody” has the meaning assigned by Section 38.01.

(2) “Escape” has the meaning assigned by Section 38.01.

(3) “Deadly force” means force that is intended or known by the actor to cause, or in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing, death or serious bodily injury.

(4) “Habitation” has the meaning assigned by Section 30.01.

(5) “Vehicle” has the meaning assigned by Section 30.01.


Sec. 9.04. THREATS AS JUSTIFIABLE FORCE.

The threat of force is justified when the use of force is justified by this chapter. For purposes of this section, a threat to cause death or serious bodily injury by the production of a weapon or otherwise, as long as the actor’s purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that he will use deadly force if necessary, does not constitute the use of deadly force.


Sec. 9.05. RECKLESS INJURY OF INNOCENT THIRD PERSON.

Even though an actor is justified under this chapter in threatening or using force or deadly force against another, if in doing so he also recklessly injures or kills an innocent third person, the justification afforded by this chapter is unavailable in a prosecution for the reckless injury or killing of the innocent third person.


Sec. 9.31. SELF-DEFENSE.

(a) Except as provided in Subsection (b), a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force. The actor’s belief that the force was immediately necessary as described by this subsection is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:

(1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the force was used:

(A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

(B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or

(C) was committing or attempting to commit aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery;

(2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and

(3) was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.

(b) The use of force against another is not justified:

(1) in response to verbal provocation alone;

(2) to resist an arrest or search that the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, or by a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction, even though the arrest or search is unlawful, unless the resistance is justified under Subsection (c);

(3) if the actor consented to the exact force used or attempted by the other;

(4) if the actor provoked the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force, unless:

(A) the actor abandons the encounter, or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so reasonably believing he cannot safely abandon the encounter; and

(B) the other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful force against the actor; or

(5) if the actor sought an explanation from or discussion with the other person concerning the actor’s differences with the other person while the actor was:

(A) carrying a weapon in violation of Section 46.02; or

(B) possessing or transporting a weapon in violation of Section 46.05.

(c) The use of force to resist an arrest or search is justified:

(1) if, before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer (or person acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use greater force than necessary to make the arrest or search; and

(2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the peace officer’s (or other person’s) use or attempted use of greater force than necessary.

(d) The use of deadly force is not justified under this subchapter except as provided in Sections 9.32, 9.33, and 9.34.

(e) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the force is used is not required to retreat before using force as described by this section.

(f) For purposes of Subsection (a), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (e) reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.


Sec. 9.32. DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON.

(a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:

(1) if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31; and

(2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or

(B) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

(b) The actor’s belief under Subsection (a)(2) that the deadly force was immediately necessary as described by that subdivision is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:

(1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the deadly force was used:

(A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

(B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or

(C) was committing or attempting to commit an offense described by Subsection (a)(2)(B);

(2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and

(3) was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.

(c) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the deadly force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the deadly force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the deadly force is used is not required to retreat before using deadly force as described by this section.

(d) For purposes of Subsection (a)(2), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (c) reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.


Sec. 9.33. DEFENSE OF THIRD PERSON.

A person is justified in using force or deadly force against another to protect a third person if:

(1) under the circumstances as the actor reasonably believes them to be, the actor would be justified under Section 9.31 or 9.32 in using force or deadly force to protect himself against the unlawful force or unlawful deadly force he reasonably believes to be threatening the third person he seeks to protect; and

(2) the actor reasonably believes that his intervention is immediately necessary to protect the third person.


Sec. 9.34. PROTECTION OF LIFE OR HEALTH.

(a) A person is justified in using force, but not deadly force, against another when and to the degree he reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent the other from committing suicide or inflicting serious bodily injury to himself.

(b) A person is justified in using both force and deadly force against another when and to the degree he reasonably believes the force or deadly force is immediately necessary to preserve the other’s life in an emergency.


Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY.

A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:

(1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and

(2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or

(B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and

(3) he reasonably believes that:

(A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or

(B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.


Sec. 9.43. PROTECTION OF THIRD PERSON’S PROPERTY.

A person is justified in using force or deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property of a third person if, under the circumstances as he reasonably believes them to be, the actor would be justified under Section 9.41 or 9.42 in using force or deadly force to protect his own land or property and:

(1) the actor reasonably believes the unlawful interference constitutes attempted or consummated theft of or criminal mischief to the tangible, movable property; or

(2) the actor reasonably believes that:

(A) the third person has requested his protection of the land or property;

(B) he has a legal duty to protect the third person’s land or property; or

(C) the third person whose land or property he uses force or deadly force to protect is the actor’s spouse, parent, or child, resides with the actor, or is under the actor’s care.

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