Saturday, January 13, 2007

Texas House Bill 284 (Castle Doctrine)

House Bill 284 is Texas's version of a "Castle Doctrine" law that has been introduced into the 2007 Texas State Legislature. The title of this bill is "Relating to the use of force or deadly force in defense of a person." It was authored by Representative Joe Driver of Garland, has 3 joint authors and 74 co-authors. This is more than half of the House, so passage of this bill is fairly certain.

So, what is a Castle Doctrine Law?

The "Castle Doctrine" simply says that if a criminal breaks into your home, your occupied vehicle or your place of business, you may presume he is there to do bodily harm and you may use any force against him.

It also removes the “duty to retreat” if you are attacked in any place you have a right to be.

Furthermore, this law provides protection from criminal prosecution and civil litigation for those who defend themselves from criminal attack.
A couple highlights of the changes in law that will be in effect due to this bill:

Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code (Self Defense).

9.31(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. HB 284 adds: The actor's belief that the force was immediately necessary as described by this subsection is presumed to be reasonable if the actor knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the force was used:

(1) unlawfully entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully, the actor's habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

(2) unlawfully removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully, the actor from the actor's habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or

(3) was committing or attempting to commit aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

9.31(e) and (f), concerning retreat is also added:

(e) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the force is used is not required to retreat before using force as described by this section.

(f) For purposes of Subsection (a), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (e) reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.

Section 9.32 of the Texas Penal Code (Deadly Force in Defense of a Person).

9.32(a)(2) is deleted,(if a reasonable person in the actor's situation would not have retreated; and) and verbiage similar to 9.31 is added to broaden the scope of when deadly force is authorized and stating that there is no requirement to retreat.

Also amended is chapter 83 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code (Use of Deadly Force in Defense of Person).

83.001. AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE. It is an affirmative defense to a civil action for damages for personal injury or death that the defendant, at the time the cause of action arose, was justified in using deadly force under Subchapter C, Chapter 9, Penal Code. The following is removed: (against a person who at the time of the use of force was committing an offense of unlawful entry in the habitation of the defendant.)

HB 284 adds 83.002:

COURT COSTS, ATTORNEY'S FEES, AND OTHER EXPENSES. A defendant who prevails in asserting the affirmative defense described by Section 83.001 may recover from the plaintiff all court costs, reasonable attorney's fees, earned income that was lost as a result of the suit, and other reasonable expenses.

In a nutshell, House Bill 284 defines the term "unlawful force" as it pertains to a goblin acting on a citizen, states that there is no requirement to retreat from a goblin who is demonstrating unlawful force, and protects the citizen from civil suits.

This is good law and needs to be passed. If you are a Texan, contact your representative and inform them that you want them to back HB 284 and pass it as written.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have confirmed my opinion of Texans, just as Alabamans have confirmed my opinions of them, too. Both of your states have smarter politicians. Unfortunately, I don't want to name names, so I will just say we have Weinstain, Boxer, and Pelosi. I sure wish they would spend a year in the middle east as residents!