Does the Castle Doctrine Allow You To Legally Shoot Someone In Texas?

Many Texans own or carry guns to protect themselves and their families from harm. Therefore it is important to have a good understanding of when it is legal to use deadly force in this state.

Criminal defense lawyer in Houston (281) 853-8537. Nothing in this article should be considered valid legal advice, you should consult a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction before making any legal decisions. Do not shoot anyone because of something you read on this website.

Overview of the Castle Doctrine

The castle doctrine is the common name given to ‘hold your ground’ laws that have been passed in various states since 2005. The castle doctrine holds that citizens may use deadly force or hold their ground if they believe that doing so will protect them from being harmed. Texas law specifically states that you do not have a legal obligation to retreat if you feel your safety is in danger. However, the places where you can stand your ground vary in different states.

The castle doctrine stems from the philosophy that every person is the king or queen of their home. This means that you should not have to flee your own home due to the unlawful presence of an intruder. Texas state law designates certain locations that are protected under the castle doctrine:

  • Home
  • Vehicle
  • Workplace

When you are in your home, Texas law makes the assumption that you are justified in using lethal force against intruders. This applies in your own home in these circumstances:

  • The intruder has entered your home illegally and with force
  • The intruder removes or tries to remove you from your home with force

It is important to note that your home under Texas law refers to ‘occupied habitation.’ This is defined under the law as: “…a structure or vehicle adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons; and includes each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle.”

This specific definition limits the places where one can use deadly force under the castle doctrine in Texas. This is a point of controversy for some of those who want to use the protections of the castle doctrine to defend themselves and their families.

Uncertainty in Application

Unintended shootings happen too often.

This is important: You may not use force on another person simply for trespassing.

To shoot someone in Texas, you must fear for your safety when another person is breaking into your home, occupied vehicle or job site. This means that you need to be occupying the home, vehicle or job site when the intruder is breaking in.

The castle doctrine does not provide you with a legal excuse to shoot people for trespassing.

Involved in a Shooting?

Almost any Texas who is involved in a shooting, justified or otherwise, is going to need sound legal counsel from a criminal defense attorney. Call (281) 853-8537 to speak to one of your lawyers today.