Woman defending herself from attacker

What is Stand Your Ground?

Stand your ground law, officially known as "no duty to retreat," says that a person may defend themselves and others rather than retreat. To this end, they may apply lethal force when they reasonably believe their lives are in danger. Yet that only tells half the story, proper use of the law requires understanding the criteria of the law.

No Duty to Retreat

In Texas and many other states, a person under attack has no duty to retreat from the scene. Not only that, but they have legal protection to fight back against aggressors. This requires that the defender believe they are in immediate danger of death.

When a defendant and their attorney successfully demonstrate a reasonable fear of deadly force, the state attorney cannot argue that the defender's use of deadly force was uncalled for or criminal. However, certain restrictions apply.

Criteria of a Stand Your Ground Claim

Before claiming "no duty to retreat," a defendant must demonstrate that they were acting lawfully at the time of the incident. This requires that the defendant did not engage in the following:

  1. Criminal Activity

Any claim of a duty not to retreat is void if the defendant was breaking the law. If any crime (felony or misdemeanor) was committed while someone stood their ground, the prosecutor might argue that the claim is not valid.

  1. Provocation

The defender could not claim they stood their ground if they provoked another person into attacking them. That could mean escalation through verbal harassment or even pushing them until the situation escalates into deadly force.

  1. Trespassing

Castle doctrine trumps stand your ground law. Anyone on another person's private property either as a guest or a trespasser cannot claim they were standing their ground against the property owner.

If you successfully refused to retreat, you may want legal representation. If you'd like an experienced Fort Worth Criminal Defense attorney from Goza & Carreras, Attorneys at Law to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (817) 402-2188.