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What is your legal right regarding self-defense and deadly force?

Posted: 5:39 PM, Jul 10, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-10 20:33:58-04
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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A fatal shooting Wednesday involving an off-duty DPS Trooper is prompting questions about a person's legal right to protect him or herself in a potentially dangerous situation.

Chris Waller, a local criminal defense attorney with expertise and experience regarding the Second Amendment and self-defense case laws clarified instances in which a person is within their legal right to exercise deadly force.

When discussing self-defense or the use of deadly force, the Castle Doctrine is a term commonly used.

Waller said under that doctrine, a person is not required to run or hide as a means of protection.

"If you're in your home or a place you're legally supposed to be at, like at work or inside your car, you do not have the legal duty to retreat before defending yourself," Waller said.

So when is a person legally allowed to fire a weapon when claiming self-defense?

"If you shoot somebody that's deadly force," Waller said. "You have to reasonably believe that your life is in danger or that harm could happen to you."

He added there are several instances in which a person is within their legal right to exercise deadly force, like burglary or assault. Often times, the time of day in which the incident occurred also comes into play.

"You're presumed under the law to have acted reasonably using deadly force," Waller said. "Even theft at nighttime. The law allows for that. With theft or criminal mischief at night, you're actually allowed, you can use deadly force."

Lastly, is a person required to warn someone they believe is posing a threat to his or her life before firing a weapon?

"The law does not say that you have to warn. The law does not say that you have to run away," Waller said. "The law says you can stand your ground and not run away, retreat to defend your life or person."

KRIS 6 News contacted local law enforcement agencies and shooting ranges regarding this story, but all declined to comment.