Reviewing Texas’ self-defense law

Most in Waco might never dream of using violent force against another, yet there may be situations where they are compelled to do so. One’s first reaction to hearing a claim of self-defense may be to be skeptical. However, enough legitimate cases of the justified use of force have occurred to merit several states to create laws addressing it (according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Texas is among them). Such statutes typically stipulate that people have no duty to retreat from a scenario where they feel threatened, and by extension, are permitted to defend themselves and others if the situation calls for it. 

Indeed, Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code says that one is warranted in using force if they believe it to be immediately necessary. To justify such a belief, the following elements must be present in a situation: 

  • The actor did not provoke the person against whom force was used 
  • The actor was not engaged in criminal activity when pressed into using force
  • The person against whom forced was used was attempting to enter the actor’s home, vehicle or place of business (or forcefully attempting to remove the actor from any of these places), or was attempting to kidnap, assault, sexually assault and/or murder the actor or others. 

The use of deadly force is only justified in those scenarios that meet the aforementioned criteria and the actor believes it to be the only way to stop the actions of the person against whom it is used. 

One is typically not permitted to use force against a peace officer when said officer is in the course of fulfilling their duties. The only exception would be if the actor believed themselves to be in danger from the officer’s own excessive and/or unjustified force.