Self-Defense Laws in Texas

Texas statutes define both self-defense and defense of a third party and provide a provide a defense to prosecution when the conduct in question is “justified.” TEX. PENAL CODE § 9.02. Under Chapter 9, “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 ....” Id. § 9.31(a).

Likewise, “[a] person is justified in using deadly force against another ... when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary ... to protect the actor against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force.” Id. § 9.32(a) (emphasis added).

A person is justified in using deadly force in defense of others soo long as the accused reasonably believes that the third person would be justified in using force to protect himself. See Hughes v. State, 719 S.W.2d 560, 564 (Tex. Crim. App. 1986)); see TEX. PENAL CODE § 9.33. Both of these defenses—self-defense and defense of others—may be raised as justifications for a defendant's actions and in support of an acquittal against a crime of violence such as murder or manslaughter. See, e.g., TEX. PENAL CODE §§ 9.31–.33. 

Attorney for Self-Defense Attorney in San Antonio, TX

If you are charged with a violent crime involving a claim of self-defense or the defense of others, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call Flanary Law Firm, PLLC to discuss your criminal charges, ways to avoid the typical penalties, and defenses that can be used to fight for an outright dismissal. An attorney experienced in using the self-defense statutes in Texas can provide you with the strongest possible defense.

Don Flanary represents clients charged with a variety of violent crimes from simple assault, domestic violence, to more serious criminal offenses such as robbery or manslaughter.

Call (210) 738-8383 today to discuss your case. 


When the Use of Force is Not Justified in Texas

The use of force against another is not justified in response to verbal provocation alone. See TEX. PENAL CODE § 9.31(b)(1). Additionally, when the person using force provoked the person against whom the force was used, then the use of force is not justified. See id. § 9.31(b)(4) (providing general rule and exception).

And the use of deadly force is only appropriate under these defenses to protect the actor or a third person from another's “use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force” or “to prevent the other's imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.” See TEX. PENAL CODE §§ 9.32(a), 9.33.


Satisfying the Burden of Production in a Self-Defense Case

In a claim of self-defense or defense of others, “a defendant bears the burden of production,” while “the State ... bears the burden of persuasion to disprove the raised defense.” Zuliani v. State, 97 S.W.3d 589, 594 (Tex. Crim. App. 2003). 

The defendant's burden of production requires the defendant to adduce some evidence that would support a rational jury finding for the defendant on the defensive issue. See Krajcovic v. State, 393 S.W.3d 282, 286 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013); Shaw v. State, 243 S.W.3d 647, 657–58 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007); see also TEX. PENAL CODE § 2.03(c). In other words, the issue of the existence of a defense is not submitted to the jury unless evidence is admitted supporting the defense.

“[E]ven a minimum quantity of evidence is sufficient to raise a defense as long as the evidence would support a rational jury finding as to the defense.” Krajcovic, 393 S.W.3d at 286 (citing Shaw, 243 S.W.3d at 657–58). 

“[A] defense is supported (or ‘raised’) if there is evidence in the record making a prima facie case for the defense.” Shaw, 243 S.W.3d at 657. “A prima facie case is that ‘minimum quantum of evidence necessary to support a rational inference that [an] allegation of fact is true.’ ” Id. (quoting Tompkins v. State, 774 S.W.2d 195, 201 (Tex. Crim. App. 1987), aff'd, 490 U.S. 754, 109 S.Ct. 2180, 104 L.Ed.2d 834 (1989)).

By contrast, the State's “burden of persuasion is not one that requires the production of evidence, rather it requires only that the State prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.” Zuliani, 97 S.W.3d at 594.


This article on the self-defense laws in Texas was last updated on Friday, May 12, 2017.

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