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If you have a guest at your house in Texas, United States that has started acting in an unpredictable and threatening way that will not leave, does the castle doctrine apply in getting them to leave? This particular situation pertains to my 15 year old son and a 24 year old guest that was yelling, cussing, and acting very unpredictable towards him. I'm sure he felt threatened, but I am not sure as to what extent.

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  • Laws vary around the world, so which jurisdiction (country, province, state, principality etc) does this relate to?
    – Rick
    Sep 23, 2021 at 16:15
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    United States, Texas, Cooke County
    – Dshawn
    Sep 23, 2021 at 16:20

1 Answer 1

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Does the castle doctrine apply in getting them to leave?

No

Short Answer: Reasonable force may be used to remove the guest as they have become a trespasser - killing them in the circumstances described would be unreasonable and excessive force.

Long Answer: The Texas Castle Doctrine, referred to as Deadly Force In Defence Of Person at section 9.32 of the State Penal Code, can only be used in response to another's use (or attempted use) of deadly force or to prevent certain violent crimes:

(a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:

  • (1) if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31 [Self Defence - see below]; and

  • (2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

    • (A) to protect the actor against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or
    • (B) to prevent the other's imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery

[...]

Deadly Force is defined by section 9.01(3) to mean:

... force that is intended or known by the actor to cause, or in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing, death or serious bodily injury.

Note that justification for the Self Defence provisions at section 9.31 expressly exclude such things as mere "yelling and cussing" but (if the circumstances are such) "acting very unpredictable" may be applicable if it meets the criterion for attempted unlawful force:

(a) Except as provided in Subsection (b), a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful force.

[...]

(b) The use of force against another is not justified:

  • (1) in response to verbal provocation alone;

[...]

However

As the guest "will not leave" it can be safely assumed that their conditions of entry in to the house have been withdrawn making them a trespasser which is covered by the Protection Of One's Own Property provisions at section 9.41:

(a) A person in lawful possession of land or tangible, movable property is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other's trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property.

[...]


My links to the Penal Code may not go directly to the section described, so a word search using the section numbers may be required.

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    So the Castle Doctrine only applies if the trespasser is dead? The law wouldn't be relevant to a situation where someone brandished a gun to encourage the trespasser to leave and accidentally non-fatally shot them? Or could "deadly force" mean a level of force likely to kill someone?
    – ColleenV
    Sep 24, 2021 at 15:13
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    @ColleenV see 9.01(3)... "Deadly force" means force that is intended or known by the actor to cause, or in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing, death or serious bodily injury. Which appears to rule out an accidental discharge. I'll add this to my answer for completeness.
    – Rick
    Sep 24, 2021 at 15:21

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