Protecting property from holiday theft with Castle Doctrine

Protecting property from holiday theft with Castle Doctrine

AMARILLO, TX - Police will amp up their patrol around shopping areas starting this week, but homes also see an increase in property theft around the holidays.

An increase in package theft is expected, and thieves don't even need to enter the house to commit this crime.

Just how far can you go to protect your property?

The Castle Doctrine gives Texans the right to use force to respond to intruders on their property, but only if they present an imminent threat.

If you see someone stealing a package from your front step, and they aren't trying to attack you or any of your family members, the Castle Doctrine will not protect you if you shoot them.

"You can't use deadly force to stop that event," says Walt Weaver, Criminal Law Attorney. "You have to remember, you may think you have the right to use deadly force, but a jury may not believe you. And a jury could put you in prison for pulling out that gun, and God forbid using that gun."

Weaver said the crime starts as soon as you pull out a gun.

But when it's the homeowner's word against the burglar's, Randall County District Attorney James Farren said the jury will almost always side with the homeowner.

Witness accounts or surveillance videos would be the only fact that could change a jury's decision.

Farren said in cases like this, the jury is told to presume the homeowner was acting in self defense, and gave the following example about a package theft:

"Let's say you walk out on your front steps and they're running away with the package and you scream stop and they turn around, and you shoot them. And then later you tell the police and us, 'he was charging at me and I was scared, I was afraid he was gonna hurt me.' How do I prove otherwise? How am I supposed to convince a jury to believe them and not you?"

Farren warned potential burglars to just stop before they commit the crime.

"In Texas if they shoot you," said Farren, "there's a good chance that you're just shot and there's nothing anybody can do about it."