Stand Your Ground as a Defense in Texas

A Caldwell County, Texas, grand jury indicted a Martindale man in February 2022 on a charge of first-degree murder despite his claim that his actions were in self-defense.

Terry Duane Turner shot and killed Adil Dghoughi, a Moroccan immigrant living in Austin, around 3:40 a.m. on Oct. 11, 2021. Turner had called 911 saying that a motorist was parked in his driveway. He went out with a gun to confront the driver. Turner told dispatchers that Dghoughi pointed a gun at him first, prompting Turner to shoot in self-defense. He died at the hospital from a gunshot wound to his head. Dghoughi had no gun in his possession.

This case demonstrates that all claims of self-defense aren’t accepted by prosecutors and that there are boundaries in which deadly force can be legally used.

All states allow for self-defense in some form. Texas permits the use of force without a duty to retreat, also known as “stand your ground” laws.

If you injure or kill someone in self-defense, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer. At the Law Offices of Mark M. Childress, our defense team will begin building your defense before charges are filed. Letting the process play out without support from an astute lawyer could increase the chances of your facing felony charges.

Stand Your Ground and the Castle Doctrine

The self-defense laws in Texas are found in the Texas Penal Code, Chapter 9. Texas code states “a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful force.”

Subchapter C includes provisions allowing the protection of persons, also known as stand your ground. An individual can act to protect themselves or another person.

Deadly force is allowed in these situations:

  • To protect themselves against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force
  • To prevent the other's imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery

Valid use of deadly force also requires that the person defending themselves did not provoke the incident. They also cannot be engaged in committing a crime at the time of their defensive actions and “reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was necessary.”

The Texas law also allows a person to use non-deadly force to prevent someone from committing suicide or inflicting serious bodily injury to themselves.

Subchapter D deals with the protection of property, also known as the Castle Doctrine. An individual has no duty to retreat before using necessary force if they are inside their home.

The name “Castle” comes from the saying that a man’s house is his castle. The quote is originally from English parliament member and writer Sir Edward Coke: “A man’s house is his castle and fortress, and (his) home is his safest refuge.”

Similar to the protection of persons in Subchapter C, protection of property includes your own as well as the property of another person.

No Duty to Retreat in Many Circumstances

Standard self-defense doctrines require a duty to retreat before using deadly force. If you feel threatened, you must first try to extricate yourself from the situation before defending yourself with deadly force.

The Castle Doctrine removes the duty to retreat when the person is in their own home. The 2007 Texas law expands the right to use deadly force in any place the person has the right to be (including their workplace and vehicle). They must believe they are in danger and that deadly force is immediately necessary.

States without a duty to retreat include the following:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

More than a dozen states still require a duty to retreat.

Safeguarding Your Right to Protect Yourself

There are misguided beliefs that Texas allows great discretion in the use of deadly force. This isn’t true. If someone is about to punch you, you do not have the right to shoot them. You can defend yourself with your hands, but the degree of self-defense must match the degree of the danger.

Our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark M. Childress understand all details of our state’s self-defense laws. If you believe you had to use force to protect yourself or your property, contact us right away. We will work with prosecutors immediately with the goal to avoid charges being filed.

We offer free initial case consultations. Call (817) 497-8148 to schedule or reach out online.