Some Texans wonder if they have the right to protect themselves on their own property, and if so, under what circumstances. The short answer is that yes. However, under what is known as the Castle Doctrine, there are with limitations.
A lack of understanding surrounding the limitations under the Castle Doctrine can put you in legal peril if you take actions that are not protected by the law.
San Antonio Man Protects Neighbor with Deadly Force
Recently, a man was breaking into an apartment in San Antonio. The neighbor saw it happening and came to assist…with deadly force. He ultimately killed the intruder by firing a gun at him through a closed door from outside of the apartment.
No more information is known at this time about whether or not the neighbor will be charged in that situation, but it highlights the need to understand the Castle Doctrine in Texas. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Protected by Texas Castle Doctrine
In Texas, the law provides legal justification for the use of force in certain circumstances when a person does not have a duty to retreat.
A great example of this is a homeowner who has no duty to retreat and can use force to protect themselves from an armed intruder. The same can be true for business owners in their place of business.
The protections provided by the law allow a person on trial for using deadly force to claim self-defense when:
- They believed in a reasonable way that deadly force was necessary
- They had the right to legally be on the property
- The defendant did not provoke the person upon whom they used deadly force
- The defendant was not engaged in criminal activity when the deadly force was used
How Texas Defines Self Defense
A key part of the justification for the Castle Doctrine in Texas is being able to claim self-defense. That’s why it’s crucial to understand what comprises self-defense in this state.
The law states that a person can use force against someone else if they reasonably believe it is necessary to protect them from another person’s attempted use or actual use of unlawful force.
When Is Deadly Force Considered Self Defense?
Basically, someone can legally use deadly force in Texas against another person whenever they:
- Are being or had been kidnapped
- Believes the intruder was trying to rob, murder, kidnap, or sexually assault them
- Knew the intruder entered their home, place of employment, or vehicle unlawfully and by force
What is the Threat of Force and Deadly Force?
You may be wondering what the difference is between deadly force and the threat of force since they’re central to the Castle Doctrine.
The threat of force is defined as someone displing a deadly weapon in a threatening way, demonstrating that they would use deadly force to cause injury or death to someone. The threat of force is, by Texas law, a precursor to deadly force.
When Texans Can Legally Protect Someone Else with Deadly Force
There are certain situations in which a person can be justified using force, including deadly force, in defense of another. If they believe the other person is under threat and would be justified in using force themselves, then it is lawful to do so.
However, it is not justified to use force to protect another person if the circumstances don’t support it and someone ends up seriously injured or dead as a result.
For example, if another person sees a friend in a fight and they use deadly force to intervene on behalf of their friend, then they may not realize who started the fight and who was practicing self-defense as a result.