Wondering if you need a criminal defense lawyer if you shoot someone breaking into your house in Texas? The answer is yes. Any time you are involved in a self defense situation involving use of force, it is critical to call 911 and then a criminal defense lawyer.
We understand that you are not a criminal — but you still need a criminal defense lawyer to head off any potential charges against you. In today’s anti-gun climate, you cannot trust prosecutors to have your best interest in mind. Prosecutors face political pressure to arrest someone whenever there is a shooting.
If you shoot someone in your own home, the District Attorney may open a homicide investigation. There are few things more serious than this process. The law of self defense is incredibly complicated, and you should not risk going it alone. Saying the wrong thing can have life-altering consequences.
In this article, we discuss some of the legal issues of shooting someone that breaks into your home in Texas.
What Legal Issues Come Into Play?
If you shoot someone breaking into your house in Texas, the police are going to open an investigation to either charge you with a crime or clear your name.
The police will look at legal issues such as:
- Was lethal force justified?
- Do you qualify for Castle Doctrine Protection?
- Should you be charged with homicide or assault with a deadly weapon?
Saying the wrong thing can change the entire course of the investigation. It is crucial that you call 911 and give no statement to investigators without first consulting with your attorney.
What Crime Could I Be Charged With?
Aggravated Assault has four elements under the Texas Penal Code:
- The homeowner (you)
- Caused serious bodily injury to another
- Using a deadly weapon
If the person who broke into your house died, the charge may become a murder charge. Murder has three elements under Texas law:
- The homeowner (you)
- Caused the death of another
Both Aggravated Assault and Murder are felonies, the most serious type of crime. They both carry lengthy prison sentences if convicted.
The State cannot convict you unless they prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. There are many strong legal defenses for clients in self defense situations. Sometimes these defenses are used at trial. Your lawyer can even help prove an affirmative defense before charges are issued.
What is Lawful Self Defense in Texas?
The law of self defense is considered an affirmative defense. Affirmative defenses argue that self-defense was legal and necessary under the circumstances. Because affirmative defenses involve admitting that you were involved in the situation, it is critical that you don’t try to do this by yourself. You need to consult with your lawyer before giving a statement to the police.
In Texas, the use of lethal force is lawful when you reasonably believe that deadly force is immediately necessary to protect you or others from deadly force.
Many different factors are examined to determine if your use of force was reasonable. Important factors include:
- If you reasonably feared for your life
- If you had a duty to retreat
- If Castle Doctrine applies
The first factor, if you reasonably feared for your life, is obvious. If someone is coming at you with a weapon or breaking into your home, you may rightfully fear for your life. However, if the intruder was unarmed, the prosecutor may begin digging into the situation a little more.
What is Stand Your Ground?
Texas is a Stand Your Ground state. Many states have a mandatory duty to retreat before using deadly force. In these duty to retreat states, shooting someone is illegal unless you tried to run away first.
However, Texas has much stronger Second Amendment and self defense protections in place. Texas does not require proof that you made reasonable efforts to retreat (although this evidence can still help you prove your use of force was reasonable).
Texas allows you to use deadly force without attempting to retreat if: (1) you are in a place you are lawfully allowed to be; and (2) deadly force is otherwise justified. This is what Stand Your Ground means under the law.
What is Castle Doctrine in Texas?
Texas is also a Castle Doctrine state. Castle Doctrine essentially strengthens Stand Your Ground when you are in your home. Castle Doctrine means there is no duty to retreat when you are in your home.
Under Castle Doctrine, your belief that deadly force was immediately necessary is presumed reasonable when you are in your home and the person you shot was:
- With force
- Your occupied home
Use of deadly force is not always considered reasonable just because you are in your home. On the contrary, investigators will still conduct a full investigation and look at all the circumstances to determine if deadly force was justified for self defense.
However, the Castle Doctrine means that investigators and juries are required to afford you a little bit more deference if a self defense shooting occurred against an intruder in your house.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer if You Shoot Someone Breaking into Your House in Texas
Any time a firearm is used in a self defense situation, police and prosecutors will scrutinize every action you took and every word you say. It is critical to get your lawyer involved at the beginning of the process. A lawyer can help make sure charges never get filed.
If you are involved in a self-defense shooting in your home, contact us or call (972) 424-0760 a lawyer at Edgett Law Firm will help you. We know you aren’t a criminal and want to protect your rights.