Practical Tactical – Castle Doctrine

We have all heard the term “Castle Doctrine” at some point or time.  What exactly does it mean and how does it apply to you?

First off, this is not a legal term at all.  The term “Castle Doctrine” are not terms used in any Texas Law books.  The basic principle is that you are the king or queen of your home and should never be required to flee from their castle due to an unlawful intruder.

Now, this law is not talking about trespassers.  Texas penal code S9.41 does allow you to use force to remove a trespasser, just not deadly force that is necessary to prevent or terminate another’s trespass on your land.

There are several ways you can remove a trespasser from your land.  You can use physical confrontation or even display a weapon.  Now, be advised you can NOT fire a warning shot unless the actions of the trespasser warrant deadly force.

What is the trespasser starts destroying or stealing your property?  Can you use deadly force?

Texas Penal Code S.942 states that if someone is committing trespass or interference with your property and you must reasonably use deadly force to prevent arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the night time or criminal mischief during the night time.  These are the scenarios in which you will gain the legal justification to use deadly force.

Texas Penal Codes S9.31- concerning the justified use of non-deadly force

Texas Penal Codes S9.32- concerning the justified use of deadly force.

Ok, now we have gone over some laws and trespassing issues, let’s get into your dwelling.

Texas Law defines your “Castle” as- Your occupied habitation, vehicle or place of business or employment.  There are basically 2 circumstances that will warrant the use of deadly force:

  1. An individual unlawfully and with force, enters or attempts to enter your occupied habitation, vehicle or place of business.
  2. An individual unlawfully and with force removes or tries to remove you from your occupied habitation, vehicle or place of business.

If and when you have either of these situations arise, Texas law will presume you acted REASONABLY and were justified in using deadly/non deadly force.

The word “habitation” is somewhat specific and you need to read and understand what I am about to say.  This law does not include your PROPERTY as many people think it does.

Texas Penal Code S30.01 a Habitation is – A structure or vehicle adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons, and includes each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle.

So, buildings that are not attached to the building in which you sleep are not covered under this law.

If you have a detached garage, shop, shed or barn that is detached from where you sleep at night, they are NOT covered.

If you have a garage, front and back porch that are connected to the habitation structure, these are considered part of your habitation.

Let’s talk about our vehicles for a minute.

Texas Penal Code S30.01 defines a vehicle as any device, in, on, or by which any person or property is or may be propelled, moved or drawn in the normal course of commerce or transportation.

This seems like a very broad stroke on the canvas concerning what your vehicle is.  This definition can include cars, trucks, boats, airplanes and even golf carts.

What you must keep in mind is that you or someone else must be currently occupying the vehicle to be given the presumption of reasonableness under Texas Penal Codes S9.31 and S9.32.

Remember, just because Texas Law affords you legal justification for using deadly force, doesn’t mean you may not be arrested and prosecuted.

You may very well go to jail and have to post bond and go to court to get the issue fully resolved even if you are completely right.

I am not trying to deter you from using justified lethal force, but rather it may be a long and expensive road after you pull the trigger.

Next week I will try and cover the “Stand your ground” law.

Fortuna Paratus Remunerat- Fortune Favors the Prepared

Story by Shane Smith

TF&G Staff: