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What Are the Rules on Self Defense in Texas? 

Madson Castello Law Sept. 30, 2022

If you were in a situation in which you needed to use self-defense, and now you are facing criminal charges or are under investigation, you might be wondering about the rules for self-defense in Texas. Whether or not you can claim self-defense to justify your actions and avoid criminal charges depends on the facts of your case.  

If you believe you were defending yourself, someone else, or your property, speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney who is familiar with criminal law in your state. As criminal defense attorneys with over 30 years of combined experience as former prosecutors, we have a comprehensive understanding of the law of self-defense. We also understand how difficult this time is for you and your loved ones—we’re here to help you protect your rights and find a path forward.  

At Madson Castello Law, we represent clients facing all kinds of criminal charges. With an office in Dallas, Texas, we serve clients in Denton, Fort Worth, McKinney, and other parts of North Texas. Contact our office today to explore your defense options and find out if you can argue self-defense in your case.  

What Is Self-Defense?  

Self-defense is a legal concept used in criminal law. The criminal justice system recognizes that people can use a reasonable amount of force to protect themselves, others, or their property against imminent danger.  

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, laws in 28 states provide that there is no duty to retreat under the self-defense law. Texas is one of those states that do not require people to retreat from an attacker in their own home or any place in which one is lawfully present. 

However, there are strict requirements and rules for using self-defense in order to defend yourself against criminal charges. As a rule of thumb, self-defense can be used as a defense to assault, battery, or murder charges. However, keep in mind that self-defense is an affirmative defense, which means a person claiming to have acted in self-defense does not deny that they used force. 

When Can Self-Defense Be Used as a Legal Defense?  

There are specific criteria that must be met in order to use self-defense as a legal defense in your criminal case: 

  1. Imminent danger. To be able to claim self-defense, you must be able to prove that the danger you or a third party was facing was imminent and required immediate action. The threat is considered “imminent” when it occurs in the presence of an individual. 

  1. Reasonable belief a threat exists. You must also prove that you reasonably believed that a real threat existed when you decided to act in self-defense. In other words, you must be able to demonstrate evidence proving that you were in imminent danger of being killed, injured, or touched in an unlawful way.  

  1. You did not use more force than necessary. When determining whether or not your claim of self-defense is valid, the judge will consider the amount of force used while fending off the perceived threat. The amount of force used must be reasonable.  

  1. You were not the initial aggressor. If you started a fight or otherwise provoked the person against whom force was used, it may not be possible to claim self-defense. However, there may be exceptions to the general rule where initial aggressors may still be able to argue self-defense.  

Reach out to a criminal defense attorney in Dallas, Texas, to discuss whether or not self-defense is a viable defense in your particular case. Do not speak to law enforcement or answer questions before consulting with an attorney. Only a knowledgeable attorney can investigate your situation to determine if the facts of your case support a claim of self-defense.  

Stand Your Ground Law in Texas  

Texas is among a number of states that have “stand your ground” laws. Under the stand-your-ground law in Texas, individuals have the right to use reasonable force for the protection of persons and property.  

  • Protection of persons means that you can use self-defense to protect yourself or a third party.  

  • Protection of property, also referred to as the “castle doctrine,” means that you can protect your residence and vehicle. 

Under Texas law, you have no duty to retreat if you have a reasonable belief that an imminent danger exists. In that situation, you can use a reasonable amount of force to protect yourself, others, or your property. Navigating self-defense and stand-your-ground laws can be a daunting task, which is why you need to speak with an attorney. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you protect your constitutional rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.  

Know Your Rights and Protect Them  

If you have been charged with a crime or are under investigation for assault, battery, murder, or another violent crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss the available defense options in your specific case. Our skilled and results-driven attorneys at Madson Castello Law can investigate your particular case and help you understand possible defenses. Schedule a consultation today to get the personalized attention your case deserves.


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