Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal Defense and Stand-Your-Ground in Texas

Since the February shooting of Trayvon Martin, stand-your-ground laws and their relation to criminal defense have been in the news across the country. More recently, Texas's stand-your-ground law, referred to as the Castle Doctrine, has also been in the local news because of a deadly dispute between neighbors.

Last week, a retired Houston-area firefighter was found guilty on the charge of murder for shooting a 36-year-old neighbor during an argument over a loud house party. The 47-year-old, retired firefighter claimed he exercised proper self-defense, but jurors believed he was outside his right to use Texas's stand-your-ground law.

In 2010, the retired firefighter was upset about noise coming from a loud nearby house party hosted by his 36-year-old neighbor. The 36-year-old neighbor, an elementary school teacher, was hosting a joint birthday party for his wife and daughter. The 47-year-old went to the home and got into an argument with the 36-year-old and two other men attending the party.

According to the prosecutor of the case, the retired firefighter started the confrontation when he armed himself with a handgun and lured the 36-year-old and two other men onto the street instead of asking his neighbor to turn down the music. The retired firefighter also documented the interaction with a video camera, and after one of the men grabbed his camera, the firefighter shot and killed the neighbor. The neighbor and the two men were unarmed.

Texas's stand-your-ground law is referred to as the Castle Doctrine, and five years ago it was expanded to include the right to use deadly force. The law allows people to defend themselves in their home, workplace and vehicle. However, the law does not allow a person using force to provoke the attacker or be involved in other criminal activity at the time of incident.

The prosecutor of the case said the retired firefighter cannot use the stand-your-ground argument because he provoked the attack. The defense attorney representing the firefighter said his client felt threatened in the street and that he did not provoke anyone.

Source: The Associated Press, "Texas Jury Convicts Man in Stand-Your-Ground Case," Juan A. Lozano, June 14, 2012