What is the Texas Castle Doctrine and what does it mean?

The Castle Doctrine in Texas provides people the legal right to self-defense when in a private space

SAN ANTONIO – The Castle Doctrine has been around for years and when it comes to home break-ins such as robberies or burglaries, Texas removed the duty to retreat in one’s home back in 1995.

“The Castle Doctrine is an old common law doctrine, and the basic idea is that if through no fault of a person’s arms, they’re attacked in their home. They don’t have a duty to retreat before they use self-defense,” said Alexandra Klein, an assistant law professor at St. Mary’s University.

Klein said the Castle Doctrine in Texas provides people the legal right to self-defense when in a private space and adds that property defense is slightly different from self-defense.

“People are allowed to use force to protect property. The issue often comes with the kind of force people use and in Texas and in other jurisdictions, the law usually doesn’t let people use deadly force to protect their property except in certain limited situations,” said Klein.

But what rights do you have to defend your property if it’s stolen?

We’ve reported a few stories so far this year about victims tracking down suspects resulting in more violence and sometimes serious injury.

“The law generally doesn’t permit the use of deadly force to recover one’s property,” said Klein.

The doctrine typically refers to situations when you are inside your home, however, she said the law would certainly protect the use of force and would determine that force is reasonable if you’re inside your vehicle and someone is trying to break in as long as certain criteria are satisfied.

San Antonio police advise the community not to take matters into their own hands, file a report right away with a clear description of their vehicle and say they have the necessary resources to help recover stolen property.

About the Author

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

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