In the decade since George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012, we've heard a lot about Stand Your Ground laws and shooting in self-defense. In Texas, a similar law is known as the Castle Doctrine. But when is it legal to shoot someone in self-defense? Is it ever legal to shoot to defend your property?
The Castle Doctrine in Texas
The Castle Doctrine is Texas's version of the Stand Your Ground laws that have cropped up all over the U.S., starting in Florida in 2005. Under the Castle Doctrine, you can use deadly force if you believe doing so will protect you, someone else, or your property.
- Self-defense Texas law presumes that you're justified in using force to defend yourself at home when:
- Someone unlawfully enters with force, or
- Someone removes or attempts to remove you from your “castle” with force.
- See Tex. Crim. Code § 9.31 (2007). Your “castle” can be an occupied habitat like your home, an occupied vehicle, or your place of employment.
- Another person's use of deadly force, or
- To prevent the commission of “aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.”
- See Tex. Crim. Code §§ 9.32, 9.33 (2007).
- Arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime,
- To keep someone who is fleeing after robbery, theft, or the like from fleeing with the property, and
- You reasonably believe you can't recover the property in any other way or that using anything other than deadly force might expose you to a substantial risk of death or serious injury.
- See Tex. Crim. Code §§ 9.41, 9.42 (1994). You can also use deadly force to defend a third person's property if:
- You have a legal duty to protect their property,
- You reasonably believe they've asked for your help,
- You live with the property owner, or
- The owner is your spouse, parent, or child or is under your care.
Hire an Expert in Texas Criminal Defense
If you're facing criminal charges after shooting someone in defense of yourself or others, you need an expert in Texas law to defend you as soon as possible. The Castle Doctrine is a nuanced affirmative defense, and you could face serious legal consequences and jail time without an experienced criminal defense attorney aggressively defending you and protecting your rights. Attorney Doug Murphy is Board Certified and an expert in Criminal Defense Law and DWI Defense. In fact, he's one of only two attorneys in Texas with board certifications in these two specialty areas of the law. U.S. News and World Report also recently named Doug to their Best Lawyers in America list for 2023 Houston DWI defense. Call the Doug Murphy Law Firm at 713-229-8333 or contact them online to set up your consultation.