Many in Texas may feel as though self-defense is such a common response to accusations of criminal activity that they immediately discount it when offered. Yet upon a second glance, most likely recognize that there are scenarios in which they may feel compelled to act against another when they believe a credible threat to their safety exists.
This prompts the question of when the law actually allows one to act in self-defense. To truly comprehend this (and know how to successfully respond to criminal allegations), one needs to understand the nature of an important legal principle: the Castle Doctrine.
Differentiating “the Castle Doctrine” from “Stand Your Ground”
Most state laws outlining self-defense standards find their roots in one of two legal philosophies” “Stand Your Ground” and “the Castle Doctrine.” The former removes one’s duty to retreat from any situation in which they feel threatened. On the other hand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Castle Doctrine limits the right to respond to a threat with defensive action to those scenarios where a person attempts to unlawfully enter one’s whom. Knowing this, Texas residents then want to know which principle the state subscribes to.
Reviewing Texas’ self-defense law
Per Title 2 Chapter 9 of the Texas Penal Code, the state’s law mirrors the Castle Doctrine. Indeed, here the law states that authorities assume that one has a legitimate fear of suffering death or serious bodily injury (and is thus justified in responding with defensive action) if another attempts to unlawfully enter (or remove them from) any of the following locations:
- Their home
- Their personal vehicle
- Their place of employment
Exceptions to this standard exist when the one acted against is a law enforcement officer or a person who also has the right to be in the location.