In Texas, your house is your castle, so you should be able to protect it when you need to. Under the state’s Castle Doctrine, people may use deadly force, like shooting a gun, to defend their property, themselves or someone else. Because deadly force can cause death or serious harm, people may only use it when they reasonably believe it is necessary.
There are many different ways to interpret when is using deadly force reasonable. In most cases, it is safer to look for other ways to avoid confrontation before pulling out a gun. If you shoot someone with a gun and the jury finds you did not act in self-defense, you may face assault, aggravated assault, manslaughter or murder charges.
To defend your property
If you need to defend your property and there is no other way to do it, then using deadly force may be justifiable. There are very few situations where you may use deadly force on your property, such as:
- To stop someone from starting a fire, breaking in, robbing, aggravated robbing, stealing or causing illegal damage at night
- To protect yourself or someone else because using nondeadly force puts you at risk of death or major injury
It is important to keep in mind that the amount of force you use in self-defense should be appropriate to the threat. If an unarmed person is simply trespassing on your yard or peering into your windows, you may only use nondeadly force to convince them to leave. Otherwise, you risk facing a felony.
Things might change if the trespasser refuses to go and comes at you with a weapon.
To defend a person
You may use deadly force against another person if it is immediately necessary. For instance, if another person intends to harm you or someone else with deadly force, retaliating with a gun may be justifiable. Using deadly force to stop aggravated kidnapping, murder, rape or robbery may also count as self-defense.
Remember that using more force than is necessary could invalidate your right to claim self-defense. If someone takes you to court for shooting in self-defense, you will have to prove that you had no other option but to use deadly force. Given the potential legal repercussions, consulting an attorney would be worth considering.