In: Criminal Defense

New Law Could Change the Castle Doctrine in Texas

A new bill in Texas could change the state’s Castle Doctrine, but not everyone is thrilled about the proposed modification. The new law, proposed by Texas Rep. Terry Meza, D-Irving, would require residents to retreat before using deadly force when defending their homes.

If approved by the Texas House and Senate, House Bill 196 would take effect on September 1, 2021. The lawmaker is seeking to change the Castle Doctrine, which passed in Texas in 2007.

What Would Change if Texas Passed the Proposed Bill?

According to the text of the proposed House Bill, homeowners would still be allowed to use deadly force to defend their homes against intruders as long as the following elements are met:

  • You reasonably believe that using deadly force is immediately necessary;
  • You did not provoke the attacker; and
  • Deadly force is necessary to protect yourself or your property from the attacker’s use of unlawful deadly force, murder, aggravated kidnapping, sexual assault, or aggravated assault.

However, the proposed bill adds another requirement to using deadly force. The new section of the bill would allow you to use deadly force if you are “unable to safely retreat.”

Many Texans have opposed the new bill because they feel that the proposed law would give more protection to criminals. The future of HB 196 looks bleak after Gov. Greg Abbott spoke out against the proposed bill. Gov. Abbott tweeted that the state’s Castle Doctrine “will not be reduced,” adding that lawmakers will not force homeowners to retreat.

What is the Self-Defense Doctrine?

The Castle Doctrine allows homeowners to take justice into their own hands without the need to retreat before using deadly force. The doctrine of self-defense allows Texan residents to use force to protect themselves, their family, and their home from attackers and intruders.

However, a court would still consider whether the person’s use of force was reasonable under the circumstances. The court will look into the reasonableness of the force used by a person against an attacker to determine whether the use of force was justified (Texas Penal Code § 9.31).

How Does the Castle Doctrine Work in Texas?

The current version of the Castle Doctrine in Texas presumes that the use of deadly force is justified when an attacker:

  • Is committing or attempting to commit burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, arson, or theft or criminal mischief during the nighttime;
  • Is attempting to flee immediately after committing the above-mentioned crimes;
  • Is committing or attempting to commit sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, or murder;
  • Is attempting to remove you from your habitation or property by force; or
  • Unlawfully enters or attempts to enter your home or property by force.

It is essential to be represented by a skilled attorney to help you prove that the use of force was justified. Failure to prove that you used reasonable force in your specific circumstances can result in criminal charges.

If you are facing criminal charges after exercising your rights of self-defense, speak with our Lewisville criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Brent D. Bowen, PLLC, to protect you against the charges. Call (940) 222-2488 for a case evaluation.