Breaking down Texas’ self-defense laws

When you hear someone claim that their alleged criminal actions were only done in self-defense, you may immediately meet such an answer with skepticism. Yet at the same time, if asked, you likely would recognize that a threat to your personal safety (or that of your loved ones) might prompt you to react violently.

The question then becomes to what extent does the law permit such action. Many come to us here at The Law Office of Osvaldo J. Morales III P.C. with that very question. If and when your defensive actions result in you facing criminal charges, you need to know the answer in order to successfully defend yourself.

“The Castle Doctrine”

States set their own self-defense laws, and most find their roots in one of two legal principles: “Stand Your Ground” and “the Castle Doctrine.” The former essentially removes your duty to retreat from any situation in which you feel threatened (typically regardless of the location). The Castle Doctrine, on the other hand, limits your right to react with force to situations where your feel threatened in your home.

According to Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code, the state subscribes to the Castle Doctrine. Indeed, this law states that you can respond with force (even deadly force) when one tries to enter into (or forcibly remove you from) either of the following locations:

  • Your home
  • Your vehicle
  • Your place of business

Exceptions to Texas’ self-defense law

There are, of course, exceptions to the application of this law. You cannot, for example, react against one who has a legal right to be in any of the aforementioned locations. You also cannot act against a law enforcement officer legally attempting to execute their duties.

You can find more information on answering to criminal charges throughout our site.