Texas, like a number of states, has a law that allows people to use lethal (deadly) force against someone if it’s necessary to protect their homes and/or those in it. In some states, these are known as “Stand Your Ground” laws. In others, like Texas, the law is referred to as the “Castle Doctrine.”
What’s required for someone to claim self-defense under the Castle Doctrine?
A person can claim that they acted in self-defense if the following circumstances were present:
- They were on the property legally.
- They weren’t engaged in any kind of criminal activity at the time.
- They had a reasonable belief that it was immediately necessary to use deadly force.
- They did nothing to provoke the person who was injured/killed.
State lawmaker wants to require an attempt to retreat
Texas’ Castle Doctrine doesn’t require a person to try to escape before they use deadly force against an intruder. However, a Texas state legislator is attempting to change that portion of the 14-year-old law.
State Rep. Terry Meza, who represents the Irving area, has proposed an amendment that would add language to the law stating that deadly force could be used legally only if a person was “unable to safely retreat.”
Rep. Meza said on Twitter that “the Castle Doctrine as it currently exists emboldens people to take justice into their own hands. While theft is obviously wrong, we have laws that address that. I don’t believe that stealing someone’s lawn ornament should be an offense punishable by death.”
Gov. Greg Abbott has made it clear that he doesn’t favor changing the law. He responded to Rep. Meza last month on Twitter, saying, “The Castle Doctrine will not be reduced. We won’t force Texas homeowners to retreat…. We will protect Second Amendment rights.”
The chances of the change in the law making it through the state legislature and on to Gov. Abbott’s desk are slim with a majority Republican legislature. Rep. Meza is a relatively new lawmaker and, as a Democrat, she’s in the minority. The legislature also has a number of other matters that will likely take precedence in the current session.
If you are being investigated or charged with a crime for protecting your home, family and property, it’s still important that you present your case effectively. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help.