What You Need to Know About Texas’ Stand Your Ground Law

A unique area of criminal law that frequently comes up during high-profile murder and homicide cases is the “stand your ground” or “castle doctrine” laws that 27 states, including Texas, have adopted. As well-known as the term “stand your ground” is, it is also frequently misunderstood. This blog will take a look at this defense and communicate the key points of the law. 

The first thing to understand about the state’s stand your ground law is that it is not, simply, a get-out-of-jail-free card or license to do harm to anyone who is on your property. Standing your ground is a defense after you use force to subdue someone who either unlawfully enters your home, vehicle, or workplace or threatens your safety in nearly any place. 

If, say, you are trying to assert the stand-your-ground defense in a criminal homicide case, the burden of proof is on you, the defendant, to successfully use this defense. 

Stand Your Ground vs. Castle Doctrine

Texas has both stand your ground and castle doctrine laws on the book in Austin. The former deals with protecting yourself if you are attacked or feel threatened by someone. Castle doctrine deals with defending yourself and your property. These two laws are extremely similar. 

When Can You Use a Stand-Your-Ground Defense?

Under the two state laws that apply, you must satisfy three conditions in order to successfully invoke the stand-your-ground defense when you are in your home, vehicle, or place of work:

  • You were rightfully present at the location
  • You were not engaged in any illegal activities
  • You were attacked without any provocation on your part

Another way to put the stand-your-ground defense is that Texans do not have the duty to retreat if they feel threatened. Citizens of other states have a duty to retreat when they feel threatened unless they are in their home, vehicle, or place of work. 

Using Deadly Force

The bar to clear for successfully using the stand-your-ground defense is higher when the defendant used deadly force. The three conditions we mentioned above must be present, in addition to one more condition: you must reasonably believe that deadly force was going to be used against you. Essentially, if you genuinely feared for your life, you might be able to use this defense. Separately, you might be able to justify using deadly force to stop a murder, sexual assault, robbery (including aggravated robbery), and aggravated kidnapping. 

Relative to other states, Texas confers a considerable amount of power to its citizens so they may protect themselves against a variety of dangers. There are many legal nuances, though, that make it imperative to retain the services of a quality criminal defense attorney if you are charged with a serious crime due to your using force against another individual. When the stakes are high, we will fight for you and your rights. We can be reached at 713-227-4100; call us today to receive a free consultation.

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The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III

Our firm’s founder, Charles A. Banker III, has been a solo criminal defense practitioner with offices in Houston and McAllen, TX for over 30 years. He understands what it means to work independently in today’s hyperconnected world, but he also knows that sometimes you need to lean on others.

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