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Does Texas Have a Stand Your Ground Law?

Published: Dec 09, 2016 in Criminal Defense, Weapons Crimes

Stand your ground laws expand traditional self-defense principles by removing the duty to retreat before using deadly force. Following the death of Trayvon Martin and trial of George Zimmerman, stand your ground laws have become the subject of national attention and debate. There are approximately 27 states with stand your ground laws across the country, including Texas.

Background on Self-Defense Law

Generally speaking, a person may use deadly force when he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to himself or herself or to another person. However, some jurisdictions adopted the English common law rule, which imposed a duty to retreat before using deadly force. A widely-recognized exception to the duty to retreat is known as the castle doctrine, which applies when a person is being attacked in their own home.

What is the Texas Stand Your Ground Law?

The Texas castle doctrine is more extensive than most other states because it includes not only a person’s habitation but their vehicle and place of employment. In 2007, the Texas Legislature made significant changes to the existing castle doctrine. Under Texas law, there is no duty to retreat if the actor can show:

  • He or she had a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used
  • Did not provoke the person against whom force was used and
  • Was not engaged in criminal activity at the time deadly force is used.

Even if a person can show that they did not have a duty to retreat, the actor must also be able to establish that the use of deadly force was justified under the circumstances to avoid criminal liability.

Under Texas Penal Code Section 9.32(a), a person is justified in using deadly force against another when the actor reasonably believe that the force is immediately necessary if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31 and

  • when and to the degree that the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against another person’s use or attempted use of unlawful force or
  • to prevent another person’s imminent commission of violent crimes such as aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

In Texas, an actor’s belief that deadly force was immediately necessary is presumed to be reasonable in certain circumstances. Under Section 9.32(b), the presumption applies if the actor can establish he or she knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the deadly force was used:

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

Contact a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, call Houston criminal defense attorney Ned Barnett right away. Barnett has over 20 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney and can help you develop an effective defense strategy. Barnett has a successful track record of defending clients against serious criminal charges and he will fight to secure the best possible result in your case.

Contact the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett to schedule a free consultation.