Is Pepper Spray Legal In Texas?

Short answer – Yes. But how much is legal and in which cases it is legal? There are much more you need to know about the use of pepper spray in this state. This article offers everything you need to know about proper defense using pepper spray in Texas.

There has been a controversy around whether or not carrying and using pepper spray is legal in Texas. While the Texas Penal Code Section 46.01 (14) states that it is legal for an individual to possess a small container of pepper spray for self-defense, there are in fact not quite a few cases of being arrested for carrying this spray. In this article, we are going to uncover the regulation around pepper spray in Texas.

Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(14)

As stated, this legislation shows that a person can carry small pepper spray, and please note that it is commercially-sold pepper spray. Thus, we can interpret that an individual is deemed to be legal if that one carries a key-chain pepper spray. In fact, this type is popular on the market and actually is being sold for self-defense purpose.

Even though the chemical dispensing devices are prohibited by the state of Texas, commercially-sold pepper spray does not belong to this category. As a result, any pepper spray that you can buy from the academy or sports store with the purpose of self-defense is lawful to be used in Texas. So, another thing to interpret, you are allowed to carry the commercially-sold pepper spray, without having a license to do so. Also, there is no place exempted from the law of Texas where you are not allowed to bring the spray.

For those who are asking what the chemical dispensing devices are, the Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(14) has a detailed answer for you. They are of course not a small chemical dispenser that is sold commercially for self-defense. Instead, a chemical dispensing device is a device that is designed to dispensing substance capable of causing an adverse effect on human, either physiologically or psychologically.

Legal cases

Also interpreted from the Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(14), the use of pepper spray is only considered legal when it is a reasonable response to one that is using unlawful force against you. Because using pepper spray is not using a deadly force according to the law, it is legal to use it for personal protection. Even though using the pepper spray in not considered as using deadly force, please note that the spray contains Oleoresin Capsicum, which can cause a severe temporary effect to the respiration of those being hit. Again, the pepper spray is for defense, absolutely not for attack.


In fact, the jury will be the person who determines whether or not one has a reasonable explanation for using the pepper spray. There are not hard and fast rules on deciding when you can use the pepper spray and whether or not that case is reasonable. However, remember that this law is to ensure people only use this method of personal protection in the emergency circumstances. For instance, a person may punch you hard that causes an injury; you may use the pepper spray to protect yourself.

Illegal cases

Of course, carrying or using the pepper spray that is not commercially sold is illegal. Also, if one cannot provide a reasonable explanation for using it, one is considered using the pepper spray improperly. For example, if you have an argument with someone, they approach you and poke you but not get involved in any physical attack, using the pepper spray toward this persona is considered illegal.

Another example is carrying and using tear gas grenades. These go beyond the size of the commercially sold pepper spray, and thus, it is illegal to carry and use them if you are not a law enforcement officer on riot control duty. You may also know the case of Jason Simpkins, who were declared as falling foul of this law in 2009. At that time he had a big size pepper spray canister in his truck, and then he was arrested according to law. Despite explaining that he was not carrying the spray with him, it was in the truck, and it is used just in case he had to defend himself against the feral dogs, this man was still floored and arrested.

Liabilities of improper use of pepper spray

If they jury decides that you don’t have a sound explanation for your carrying and usage of pepper spray as a mean of protecting yourself in the emergency situation, you could be liable for criminal assault. This liability sounds like a big deal; in fact, improper use pepper spray is categorized as Class A misdemeanor, and you may be put in jail for a year or fined for $4,000. If your case is not yet justified, you may also be in charge of civil damages. In this case, you are responsible for paying the hospital fees if required. There are times in which the case is considered lesser offense or greater offense, but the mentioned liabilities are generally applied.


How to determine the boundary?

As stated in this article, 2 most important criteria to determine whether a case is legal or illegal is the size of the spray and the reason of using the spray. Remember 2 phrases “Commercially sold” and “Reasonable explanation”. If you have both of these criteria fulfilled, you should be confident in proving yourself innocent. Again you are reminded to use the pepper spray for self-defense in emergency situations only. A variable that strongly affects the legality of the case is the jury’s judgment. Thus, it is always recommended to explain yourself clearly to the court, in case you are being suspended.


Even though now we all know that we can use the pepper spray in Texas according to this state’s law, It is controversially debated if a person should or should not use the pepper spray. Some say that it is a good mean of self-protection, some others say that using it may provoke the attacker’s aggressiveness and make the situation even worse. The decision is still yours, just remember to ready yourself with the knowledge needed while using the pepper spray. Thank you for reading my article, hope you find it useful.

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