DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and its accompanying flooding, the familiar stories have appeared in the news detailing some of the unfortunate crimes that always seem to happen during one of these types of events, including robbery, fraud, theft or burglary (what some have labeled “looting”). Many are unaware that in the State of Texas we do not only permit the use of deadly force to protect your life and the life of others the same as your own, but to use deadly force to protect property, if certain conditions are met under the circumstance that you are confronted with.
In Texas, when can I use deadly force to protect my Property?
Under Section 9.42 of the Texas Penal Code, a person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:
(1) If he is justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41 (force to protect one’s personal property); and, (2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:
(A) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or
(B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and
(3) he reasonably believes that:
(A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or
(B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.
In Texas, when can I use deadly force to protect another person’s property?
A person is justified in using force or deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property of a third person if, under the circumstances as he reasonably believes them to be, the actor would be justified under Section 9.41 (use of force to protect one’s personal property), or 9.42 (Deadly force to protect property), and:
(1) the actor reasonably believes the unlawful interference constitutes attempted or consummated theft of or criminal mischief to the tangible, movable property; or
(2) the actor reasonably believes that:
(A) the third person has requested his protection of the land or property;
(B) he has a legal duty to protect the third person’s land or property; or
(C) the third person whose land or property he uses force or deadly force to protect is the actor’s spouse, parent, or child, resides with the actor, or is under the actor’s care.
Finally, I would advise anyone contemplating the use of a firearm for personal protection to invest in firearms safety and training courses, and to obtain a license to carry a firearm if they are eligible.
IMPORTANT things to remember about Texas firearms law
- You do not need a permit to own a firearm or to keep a firearm on property that you own.
- Without a permit, you may carry a concealed or open-carry firearm while on property that you own.
- You do not need a license to carry a loaded firearm in your vehicle, so long as the weapon is not on your person, and is not in plain view (basically, if you carry a weapon in a vehicle, keep it in a closed container like the center console or the glove compartment).
- To carry a firearm concealed on your person, or open carried in a holster, you must have a license to carry a firearm. If you carry a loaded weapon on your person you can be charged with Unlawful Carry of a weapon, a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1-year in County Jail and a $4,000 fine.
- If you have been convicted of a felony, there is a discrepancy with Federal law and Texas Law when it comes to your right to own a firearm.
- Under Federal law, you lose your right to own a firearm indefinitely if you are convicted of a felony.
- Under Texas law, 5-years after completing probation, parole, or being released from prison you may own a firearm, but ONLY at your residence.
- If you plead guilty to an assault involving family violence, Federal law treats this as a conviction, even if you are not convicted in court, and you will not be permitted to buy a firearm with a Federal background check.
- In Texas you may purchase a firearm in a private transaction with an individual without a Gun Dealers license, so long as the buyer proves they are a Texas resident. No records are required to be kept, but I would suggest keeping records in a safe place anytime you engage in a private gun transaction.