So what exactly is the Texas take on the “Castle Doctrine” ?


In light of some recent events in the news, we’ve all heard talk about the “Castle Doctrine” and of course political views on the topic range on the subject from those who consider it to be the best thing since sliced bread, to those who thinks it gives people a James Bond license to kill.  However, few have taken the time to find out what the laws really are.

I recently came across an excellent article in the September/October 2012 issue of the TSRA Sportsman magazine written by Michele Byington (Attorney, Texas Law Shield, LLP) that dispelled the myths and gave a very logical and factual overview.  I’d gladly provide you with a link to her article but the publication does not appear to be available online.

I shall refrain from plagiarism of her article and also make it clear that I am not a lawyer and that the following should not be considered legal advice.  I will share a couple of the highlights that I think are of importance  to any Texas firearm owner.  Firstly, you will not find the words “Castle Doctrine” in any Texas Law.  What you will find are sections 9.31 (use of force), 9.32 (deadly force in defense of person) and 9.42 (using deadly force to protect property) in Texas Penal Code – Chapter 9, all of which I cover in depth during my Texas CHL classes.

The most important conclusion of the article is what is hopefully common sense to all law abiding people.  There are situations in which the use of force or deadly force is justified under Texas law.  However, justification does not mean that use of force or deadly force is the best or only option.  In fact, it should be the last resort.   Even if one is justified under the law, it does not mean a justified act of self defense won’t get torn apart in the media, reviewed by a grand jury, result in a trial, result in hefty legal fees, and the “…process may take months or even years to get resolved.”

Long story short, the use of force, up to and including deadly force, even when legally justified comes with a heavy burden.  Therefore, it should always be the option of last resort.

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