In Texas, we have what is known as a Stand Your Ground law, which is also called The Castle Doctrine – as in your home is your castle. This refers to standing your ground in your own home when you are endangered by intruders. While this is not an absolute right, there are circumstances in which it is legal to use deadly force as a means of protecting yourself – with no duty to retreat from the threat at hand.
The Castle Doctrine
A homeowner is legally justified in using force in his or her own home to protect himself or herself from an armed intruder. This is just as true for business owners in their place of business and truckers in their semis. For deadly force to be found justifiable in the eyes of the law, specific factors must apply, including:
- You reasonably believed that the deadly force you employed was necessary to protect yourself from harm in that moment (reasonable in the sense that other reasonable homeowners in similar situations would make similar decisions).
- You had a legal right to be on the property at the time.
- You did not provoke the intruder in question.
- You were not engaged in criminal activity at the time that you employed deadly force.
Deadly Force vs. Threat of Force
If you are threatened by an intruder in your home, and you show the intruder a gun that you intend to protect yourself with, if it becomes necessary, it is called the threat of force. In other words, you are threatening to use the force necessary to protect yourself in the situation, and it is a precursor to using actual deadly force.
In Defense of Someone Else
Using deadly force to protect a third party can also be justified if you believe immediate intervention is necessary and that you would be justified in doing the same to protect yourself if you were in his or her place. You are not, however, justified in using such force to protect someone other than yourself if you misinterpret the situation and end up leaving an innocent party seriously injured – or dead.
In Protection of Property
There are also specific circumstances in which you can employ deadly force to protect your property from an intruder. In such situations, several factors must apply:
- You own the land or property in question.
- You reasonably believe that the use of force is necessary in the moment to prevent arson, robbery, or burglary from occurring.
- You reasonably believe that there are no other means of protecting your land or property.