3 Critical Stand Your Ground Rules

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Imagine you’re walking to your car after a late night movie, when a masked man with a knife jumps in front of you and demands money. As he creeps closer, you have to decide, hand over your wallet, draw your concealed pistol and protect yourself, or run away. Here are three critical stand your ground rules in Texas.

Texas has a “no duty to retreat” rule, but the words “stand your ground” don’t appear in Texas law. These two terms are often used interchangeably though. Here’s how the law operates in Texas: The law-abiding person in the previous example may defend themselves against the masked knifeman without having to retreat, since they have a legally recognized justification and meet the other requirements of the “no duty to retreat” rule.

In Texas, you’re justified in using deadly force if you reasonably believe it’s immediately necessary to protect yourself from another’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force. Once that justification is established, so long as you’re in a place you’re legally allowed to be, didn’t provoke the attack, and you weren’t engaged in criminal activity, you have the protection of the “no duty to retreat” rule.

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Thanks to this rule, a prosecutor can’t argue that you should have fallen back for defending yourself. As you might have guessed, you can lose this vital protection if you don’t meet the requirements.

Exceptions to The Rule

First, you will not be protected if you don’t have a legal right to be at the location where you use deadly force. Imagine you jump a fence to chase a deer down onto someone’s private land. The landowner approaches you with a holstered firearm and asks what you’re doing on his land, and he tells you to leave because you’re trespassing. If you used your firearm against the landowner, not only will the prosecutor be able to argue that your use of deadly force was not reasonable and not immediately necessary, but, they can also say you should have fled beforehand.

Second, you won’t be protected if you use deadly force after provoking someone. Picture a minor fender bender: You and the other driver stop and get out of your vehicles. You’re so angry about the crash that you challenge the other driver to a fight, knowing you have your concealed handgun with one in the chamber. When you get nose-to-nose with the other driver he pushes you back and you draw your gun and shoot him. You’ve lost your legal protection because you provoked the other driver.

Third, if you’re engaged in criminal activity when you use deadly force, you forfeit your legal protections under the “no duty to retreat” rule. Imagine if you go into a bar after a stressful day of work. You forget to remove your everyday carry gun and you become intoxicated. The resident tough guy starts to harass you and he breaks a beer bottle on the bar, turning it into a deadly weapon. Although you still have the right to defend yourself, if you draw your concealed weapon and fire in response, you may have to explain to the judge or jury why you didn’t try to run away first.

It’s very important to remember that stand your ground and castle doctrine laws vary from state to state. Just because you could legally shoot the masked knife man in our earlier example in Texas, does not mean you could do so in other states.

If you have other questions about Texas stand your ground laws, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.

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Comment section

9 comments on “3 Critical Stand Your Ground Rules

  1. Don’t carry in a bar…51% rule

  2. Can you use deadly force if you are young women on a walk and someone tries to grab you and kidnap you? At what point can you use deadly force to protect yourself against a kidnapper?

  3. Useful to know. Thank You

  4. The last scenario in the bar. Wouldn’t a concealed carrier already have run afoul of the 51% rule? And therefore carrying his concealed weapon illegally in a bar?

  5. Is there a stand your ground rule in North Carolina?

  6. Does this law apply to trespassers on your property or land?

    • Hello Noah, please see the response from a Texas Independent Program Attorney:

      “In Texas, the law protecting a person who stands their ground a/k/a no duty to retreat, does apply when defending property against trespassers. However, it is very important to remember that Texas law does not allow a person to use deadly force against someone who is doing nothing more than trespassing. In the event that the trespasser begins to escalate his criminal behavior and attempt to commit other crimes such as burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, then the circumstances have changed to the degree that a person would be able to use deadly force to defend themselves, if it is reasonable.”

  7. Let’s say you’re out on the street and someone holds a gun on you and takes your wallet. As a Texas LTC holder, can you draw your handgun and shoot him dead as he’s running away?

    • Hello Charlie, Please see the below response from an Independent Program Attorney:

      Texas law allows a person to use deadly force against a person who is committing an armed robbery, further the law allows deadly force to be used to recover property taken in an armed robbery if it is reasonable to believe that the deadly force is immediately necessary and that the property cannot be recovered in any other way or that to use less than deadly force to recover the property would put the person at a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury. In most circumstances, the use of deadly force would likely be viewed as reasonable.

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