The Texas Castle Doctrine: When You Can Lawfully “Stand Your Ground”
Self-defense is one of the oldest and most sacred defenses in all of criminal law. While self-defense applies in a variety of situations, it is also one of the most misunderstood defenses. One particular area of self-defense that is especially important to understand is the “Castle Doctrine.”
The Castle Doctrine is a very old legal concept that is based on the idea that a person’s home is their castle, and they should be able to defend against intruders without fear of violating the law themselves. It is also referred to as the Stand Your Ground law. Texas has a very broad Castle Doctrine that provides ample protection to those defending their homes.
Essentially, the Castle Doctrine makes legal conduct that would otherwise be considered illegal, provided the elements of the doctrine are met. Specifically, the Castle Doctrine allows you to use force you reasonably believe to be necessary to stop another person from trespassing on your property or, in some cases, taking your property. The most protection is afforded to those who are in their home at the time; however, the Castle Doctrine also applies to vehicles.
The two biggest questions in cases involving the Castle Doctrine are whether the force was “reasonable” and whether it was timely. In other words, you can only use reasonable force to protect your property, and you are only protected if you use such force immediately after the trespass or while is the trespasser is trying to get away.
In Texas, the use of deadly force to protect your property is permitted in certain situations. For example, to legally use deadly force, you must have a reasonable belief that the trespasser is attempting to commit arson, burglary, robbery, theft (during nighttime hours), or criminal mischief. You must also reasonably believe that the use of non-lethal force would not be effective or that it would subject you to “substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.”
Notice that almost every element of the Castle Doctrine uses the word “reasonable.” Reasonableness is the crux of the analysis. In this way, a judge or jury is asked to second-guess someone’s actions who uses force, determining whether it was both honestly held and objectively reasonable.
Those facing criminal charges based on lethal or non-lethal force used to protect their home or other movable property should reach out to a dedicated Texas criminal defense attorney to learn more about the Castle Doctrine and how it may apply in their case.
Contact a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing Texas assault charges, or more serious offenses, based on your actions related to protecting yourself or your property, the Texas criminal defense attorneys at Guest & Gray are here to help. We have almost two decades of experience handling some of the most complex and high-stakes criminal cases, including those involving violent crimes. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an aggressive criminal defense lawyer, call 972-564-4644. You can also reach us through our online form.