Texas Self Defense Laws

Texas Self Defense Laws

Feeling safe is an important part of life, and this would include your ability to defend yourself when threatened. There are many variations of self-defense laws across the country. Some states impose a duty to retreat before using force while others remove this duty by enacting stand your ground laws. There are also certain states that limit the use of force to protect real property, like your home or place of business. While self-defense laws vary by state, generally the force used in self-defense must be proportionate to the harm that is reasonably feared.

Texas has multiple statutes addressing self-defense, including circumstances detailing when deadly force is justified. Texas also permits the use of force (deadly or not) to protect a third person under the same circumstances that he or she would protect himself as long as the intervention is believed to be immediately necessary to protect the third person.

Texas Self Defense Laws Overview

Below you will find key provisions of self-defense laws in Texas.

Statutes

Texas Penal Code § 9.31: Self Defense

Texas Penal Code § 9.32: Deadly Force in Defense of Person

Texas Penal Code § 9.33: Defense of Third Person

When the use of force is justified

If the person who used force knew or had reason to believe that it was being used against one who was entering or attempting to enter his or her home, business or vehicle; removing or attempting to remove the person from his or her home, business or vehicle; OR committing or attempting to commit:

  • murder
  • sexual assault
  • robbery
  • aggravated kidnapping
  • aggravated sexual assault
  • aggravated robbery

Note: Self-defense is not allowed if the person claiming the defense:

  • provoked the person they were defending against
  • was engaged in a criminal activity (other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law regulating traffic).
When the use of force is not justified
  • In response to verbal provocation (alone).
  • To resist an unlawful search or arrest by a police officer UNLESS the officer uses greater force than necessary before the actor resists and when the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself.
  • If the actor consented to the force used by another.
  • If the actor provoked the other's use of unlawful force, UNLESS the actor abandons or clearly communicates his or her intent to abandon the encounter and the other continues to use force against the actor.
  • If the actor sought an explanation from or discussion with the other person while the actor was carrying a weapon in violation of § 46.02 or possessing or transporting a weapon in violation of § 46.05.

Duty to retreat?

No. A person who has the right to be present at the location where the force is used is not required to retreat before using force (including deadly force) as long as the person did not provoke the person against whom the force is used nor is the person using force engaged in a criminal activity.
Related Statute

Texas Penal Code § 9.34: Protection of Life or Health

  • A person is justified in using force (but not deadly force) in order to prevent someone from committing suicide or inflicting serious bodily injury to him or herself.
  • A person can use force (including deadly force) against another when it's immediately necessary to preserve the other's life in an emergency.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Texas Self Defense Laws: Related Resources

You can learn more about laws related to this topic by clicking the links below:

Get Legal Help with Your Self Defense Case in Texas

Violent crimes, including homicide, are usually charged as serious felonies; however, there are times where a person may have acted within his or her rights to self-defense. If you've killed or seriously injured a person who was a threat to you, it may be in your best interest to consult with a local criminal defense attorney in Texas.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.