In this video, Fort Worth criminal defense attorney Benson Varghese breaks down the Castle Doctrine and explains when self defense in Texas is justified.
This is Texas and we love our guns in Texas – but when can you pull a firearm out and use it to protect yourself, your property, your business, or someone within your home? Let’s talk about when a person can use self defense in Texas and particularly when a person can use deadly force to defend themselves.
In very general terms, your use of force needs to be measured to counter the use of force being used against you. So, for instance, if someone comes up to you and balls up their fists to strike you or does in fact strike you, then you can certainly use your fists to hit them back. However, generally speaking, you’re not going be able to increase the level of force. So, if someone comes at you with their fists balled up or punches you can’t pull out a knife and stab them.
When we are talking about the use of deadly force, the general premise is you can use deadly force to defend yourself against another persons’ unlawful use of deadly force.
As you’re considering whether or not the use of force is appropriate, understand that ultimately a judge or jury is going to be looking at the reasonability of your actions. Also understand that there are certain presumptions that can protect you when you use force or deadly force. For instance, when a person is entering your property using force – so the dynamic has changed from simply criminally trespassing to now they’re trying to break into a door, they’re trying to break into a window, or they have – well there’s a presumption that your use of deadly force is in fact reasonable to try and keep them out or to get them out of your property.
So, let’s break that down a little bit. What if someone is just criminally trespassing on your property? Is that enough to use deadly force? Well, generally speaking, that’s not enough. Simply seeing someone who has approached your property and is doing nothing more, is not enough for you to actually use deadly force. You are, however, allowed to use the threat of deadly force. So, you could threaten them – you could actually pull out a handgun, point at them, and say, “you need to get off my property now.” You can’t actually use deadly force under those circumstances.
Now let’s change that situation a little bit. Let’s say the person has entered your property or is attempting to enter your property with force. So, now instead of a person entering your front yard or property, let’s say they are at your door and trying to get into your house, by force, or they’re breaking a window trying to get in. Well, at that point, you can use deadly force to protect yourself and anyone else who is within the home. The same applies to your place of work and to your vehicle.
In Texas, whether or not you have a license to carry, you’re allowed to have a firearm in your home or in your vehicle or transport that handgun from your vehicle to your car or from your car back to your vehicle.
Similarly, at your place of business, if someone tries to make forceful entry, you are allowed to use deadly force to protect yourself. So, if you’re an employee, let’s say a security guard, and you’ve been placed at a particular location for the company – that’s your place of employment and you can use deadly force to prevent the entry of another if they are entering unlawfully.
The presumption that exists about the reasonableness of the use of deadly force and self-defense also changes based on the time of day. At night, a person can use deadly force to protect themselves against a greater number of offenses. For instance, if someone is on your property and you believe they are there to commit an offense – like criminal mischief, destruction of property, arson, or enter your property and commit some sort of violent offense – you can use deadly force to defend yourself.
We hope you found this information about self defense in Texas helpful. For more information about using deadly force in Texas, please visit our Castle Doctrine page. If you or a loved one is facing charges stemming from a scenario in which you believed you were acting in self defense in Texas, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. We can help. Our seasoned attorneys have decades of experience and a proven record of success.
Was your use of deadly force justified? Contact us today at (817) 203-2220 or reach out online for a complimentary strategy session. During this call we will: