As we quickly approach the holiday season, it is sad to say that crime increases during the holidays. So, it may be wise to know when you can use deadly force to protect yourself. In Texas, deadly force is legally justified if you reasonably believe it is immediately necessary to prevent the following crimes:
- Aggravated Assault;
- Aggravated Kidnapping;
- Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault;
- Robbery and Aggravated Robbery; and
- Home invasion or a carjacking
Aggravated simply means the criminal is using a weapon to commit the action. Home invasion is actually a bit broader as it covers the unlawful and forcible entrance or attempted entrance into a person’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business. The same is true with carjacking, it covers the unlawful and forcible removal or attempted removal of a person from an occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business.
The law also allows the defense of others (third parties) under the same criminal actions as long as you are defending a true victim. A person is not considered a victim if they were the instigator. Finally, the law also allows the use of deadly force to protect your property but proceed with caution. In Texas, deadly force is allowed to prevent the following property crimes:
- Robbery/Aggravated Robbery/Burglary;
- Theft during the nighttime; and
- Criminal Mischief during the nighttime.
Nighttime begins 30 minutes after sunset and ends 30 minutes before sunrise. Using deadly force for theft at night and criminal mischief at night is a slippery slope. Just because the law says you can does not mean you should. For instance, teenagers covering your trees with toilet paper at night is considered criminal mischief, however, I would not suggest killing someone for this crime. Your actions must be considered reasonable. The same is true with theft. Do you really want to kill someone if you find them stealing something out of your garage at night? Is a life worth a lawnmower? Also, if you know who is stealing your property, the law does NOT allow you to use deadly force. For instance, little Johnny down the block breaks into your house and is walking out the front door when you get home. Because you know it is little Johnny, all you can do it contact the police and file a report since they can locate little Johnny. So, tread carefully when using deadly force to protect your property! Finally, by no means should you ever use deadly force against a trespasser.
If you find yourself having to use deadly force to protect yourself, your family, or your property, whatever you do, do NOT speak with police. Call 911 to seek assistance but simply tell them your name, location, and that you need police and an ambulance, but nothing more. Then, immediately call Dodson Legal Group and let our lawyers protect you, 844-4DODSON (363766).