Can You Ever Legally Shoot Someone in Texas?

Posted by Doug Murphy | Mar 15, 2023 | 0 Comments

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.

  1. 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.
  • Defense of Others Under Texas law, you may also be justified in shooting someone to defend another person if you “reasonably believe[] the deadly force is immediately necessary” to defend another person from:
    • 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).
  • Defense of Property You may also be justified in using deadly force to defend your property if you “reasonably believe[] the force is immediately necessary” to keep someone from unlawfully trespassing or interfering with the property. You may also use deadly force to prevent:
    • 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.

    About the Author

    Doug Murphy

    Doug Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and also in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


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