If someone attacks you or tries to trespass on your property, your first instinct may be to fight back. Under the Castle Doctrine, which is essentially the doctrine of self-defense in Texas, it is legal to use deadly or nondeadly force to protect yourself, your family, and your land, in certain situations. Many Texas residents use the Castle Doctrine as a manslaughter defense or defense to other criminal charges.
What is the Castle Doctrine?
Kings and queens have no responsibility to retreat into their own castles and are allowed to do whatever it takes to protect themselves and their castles from attack. Similarly, under Texas Penal Code 9.31 and 9.32, which essentially make up the Castle Doctrine, Texas residents have the right to use force to defend their “castle,” whether it be their home, workplace, or vehicle, if the force is:
- Reasonable: Generally, there is a presumption that the use of force is reasonable if someone enters or attempts to enter your “castle” with force, attempts to remove you from your “castle” with force, a nd/or commits/attempts to commit a violent crime (e.g., murder, sexual assault, and robbery).
- Immediately necessary: Threats of future harm are generally not enough to qualify for protection under the Castle Doctrine.
What are the exceptions to the Castle Doctrine?
There are two main exceptions to the castle doctrine. These exceptions are:
- Provocation: You cannot claim protection under the Castle Doctrine if you were the aggressor in the incident.
- Criminal activity: You cannot claim protection under the Castle Doctrine if you were engaged in criminal activity at the time of the incident.
If you have been charged with manslaughter, consider speaking to an attorney to discuss the Castle Doctrine and other possible defense strategies.