Can I Be Charged for Shooting Someone Who Is On My Property Illegally? | Atascosa County Criminal Defense Attorney
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UPDATE: Can I Be Charged for Shooting Someone Who Is On My Property Illegally?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Atascosa County criminal defense attorney weapons charges

Originally published: August 7, 2020 -- Updated: August 12, 2022

Update: As discussed below, there are certain situations where the use of deadly force may be justified if a person is defending their property, including their home or their vehicle. In fact, the laws in Texas allow deadly force to be used to prevent the commission of multiple types of crimes, including burglary, arson, robbery, or aggravated robbery. However, this law also applies in cases where a person is allegedly attempting to commit theft or criminal mischief during the nighttime, and a person may use deadly force to prevent someone from fleeing after committing any of the offenses listed above. Generally, deadly force is considered to be justified if a person believes that they have no other options for protecting or recovering their property or if the use of non-deadly force would put them or someone else at risk of being seriously injured or killed.

The law allowing the use of deadly force is commonly known as the "castle doctrine," since it is based on the idea that a person's home or property may be protected from those who intend to commit crimes. It is also commonly called the "stand your ground" law. Unlike previous versions of the self-defense laws in Texas, which stated that a person had a "duty to retreat" and avoid violent encounters when possible, the law now gives people the right to stand up against others and defend themselves against crimes.

The stand your ground law also applies to other situations involving self-defense, and a person may use deadly force to protect against someone else's attempt to use deadly force or to prevent the commission of crimes such as murder, sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, or robbery against themselves or someone else. The law specifically states that as long as a person has a right to be in a certain location, was not engaging in criminal activity, and did not provoke the other person, they are not required to retreat before resorting to deadly force.

The stand your ground law in Texas does allow for deadly force to be used in certain situations, but those who use firearms or other weapons to defend themselves, their homes, or their loved ones may sometimes be accused of acting illegally and inappropriately. If you are facing criminal charges after defending yourself using deadly force, contact an experienced Floresville criminal defense attorney at 830-769-1010 for a free consultation.

 

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Waking up in the middle of the night to rustling outside your house or the sound of a window breaking downstairs would set anyone on high alert. Maybe you grab the nearest object to use in self-defense, if necessary, or perhaps you keep a gun in the house to protect you and your family. Many Texans are gun owners, saying that a gun in the house makes them feel safer. Even if the gun is properly registered and you have the appropriate licensing for the weapon, situations like these can leave the property owner facing criminal charges. Understanding self-defense laws is critical for Texas home and gun owners. It is imperative for those who are facing such charges to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect their rights. 

A Look at Criminal Consequences

Texas law states that property owners are able to use force to terminate trespassing or theft if they deem it necessary; however, force and deadly force are two different actions. Shooting the trespasser is considered deadly force since the bullet can easily end the person’s life. If the person is not an immediate threat to you or your family, deadly force is not permissible. This is easier to understand with concrete examples.

If the trespasser is wandering around your yard, in a non-threatening manner, using deadly force can lead to felony charges. However, if the individual becomes a threat by coming toward you with a weapon in hand or breaking into your home and using the weapon to take things, their trespassing has now escalated to attempted murder or aggravated robbery. Because your life may be on the line, Texas’ stand your ground laws allow you to shoot the individual, in an act of self-defense, without needing to retreat from the other party in any way. Stand your ground laws allow property owners to defend their property through deadly force without retreating if the other party is an imminent threat. Despite these laws, it is fairly well-known that any case involving the use of weapons or death can leave the self-defending party in hot water.

Was Deadly Force Necessary?

In cases involving weapon use, a jury will need to determine the need for the deadly force in that instance. In other words, was shooting the other party really necessary or warranted? Texas juries have a three-step process that they will use when looking at such cases:

  1. After reviewing the Texas legislation that discusses the use of deadly force, the jury must find that you were justified in using this level of force to stop the trespasser, thief, or attempted murderer.

  2. The jury must decide that you had reasonable belief to think that deadly force was immediately necessary to stop the individual from fleeing the scene with your property in hand or to protect yourself against the individual.

  3. The jury must agree that when you used deadly force, you believed that you had no other means to protect your property from being taken or protect yourself and that using less force would have led to risks of your own death or serious injuries. 

Contact a Floresville Weapons Charges Lawyer

If you or anyone you know is facing charges involving the use of weapons or deadly force, you should immediately seek out legal counsel. Charges to this degree can lead to significant time behind bars, hefty fines, or even the death penalty. The attorneys at BRCK Criminal Defense Attorneys believe in the right of Texas property owners to defend themselves and are committed to defending those facing murder or manslaughter charges in the state of Texas. We have over 40 years of combined experience to put toward your defense and we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. If you are facing criminal charges after defending yourself using a weapon, contact our Wilson County criminal defense attorneys at 830-769-1010 to schedule your free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.9.htm

https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/2018/07/09/294925/four-things-you-should-know-about-self-defense-law-in-texas/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/26/us/stand-your-ground-law-explainer/index.html

 

 

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