People often wonder what their rights are when it comes to protecting themselves and their property. It is easier to do this in states like Texas that have a “stand your ground” law. About half of the US states have a version of this law. The stand your ground law is also referred to as the “Castle Doctrine” (implying a person’s home is their castle), “line in the sand law,” and “no duty to retreat” law.
If you have been charged with a crime in Texas after using the stand your ground law to protect yourself or your property, you need to get in touch with Gebhardt, and Eppes, PLLC. As experienced criminal law attorneys, they can help you navigate the sometimes tricky legal issues that come with using this kind of law in your own self-defense.
Every state allows you to defend yourself, even using deadly force if necessary. The caveat is that you must have a reasonable belief your life is in danger before using deadly force against another person. What constitutes “reasonable belief” can vary from state to state. You also can’t use unreasonable force. For example, if someone charges at you with a towel, you can’t pull out a gun or knife on them. This is true in Texas, as well as all other states.
The main difference in the stand your ground law in Texas and the states that do not have such a law is the duty to retreat. In Texas, there is no duty to retreat. Other states may require you to retreat before using deadly force on someone, (even if you are in your own home or on your own property). In Texas, you do not have to retreat first, provided you are justified in using self-defense under the Texas Penal Code.
In order to not get prosecuted under the castle doctrine, if you are in your home, Texas law presumes you acted reasonably. If you use force or deadly force against an intruder who enters your home you have this presumption. Otherwise, you are free to use deadly force on anyone who you believe is presenting a threat to you, or a loved one if they unlawfully enter your property in an attempt to cause you harm or steal. These rules do not necessarily apply to a mere trespasser.
The police will likely question you if you use deadly force to protect yourself. If this happens, contact a competent criminal law attorney to represent your best interests. They can help prove you had a right to use the law when you did. The team at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC would be happy to discuss your case and help protect your rights.