While riding the perimeter of his South Texas ranch in preparation for the upcoming dove season, Gaul Derrnit spies trespassers crawling through a new hole in his fence.  Twice before other illegal immigrants damaged Gaul’s fences and gates, water lines and water storage tanks, vandalized his property, burglarized an isolated ranch home and left massive amounts of trash. Derrnit is fed up. Recalling the murder of an off duty Border Patrol officer, Gaul is armed and “about ready to shoot ‘dem S.O.B.’s.”  May Derrnit shoot these trespassers?

NO. Keep your powder dry, Derrnit. Despite an erroneous internet belief, there is no law in the State of Texas, and no case law, that permits Gaul to shoot these trespassers on his property.

Trespasser, Licensee or Invitee? Under the law, anyone who enters your property is an invitee, licensee or a trespasser.  You can summon an invitee, like a pizza delivery driver. An invitee generally enters the property for the parties’ mutual benefit – usually an economic benefit. Or you can welcome a licensee, such as a social guest. Typically a licensee is someone who enters your property for their own convenience – and not a mutual economic benefit – and with your permission. A trespasser enters your property without your permission.

Do Trespassers Have Rights? Yes, but not as many as a guest or invitee. Gaul Derrnit’s only responsibility to trespassers is to avoid injuring them “wilfully, wantonly, or through gross negligence.” The Texas Supreme Court upheld a property owner chasing trespassers on his ranch as not being grossly negligent. Gaul may be liable for gross negligence when two elements are present: (1) viewed objectively from Gaul’s standpoint, the act or omission complained of must involve an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others; and (2) Gaul must have actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceed.

Could Derrnit Have Criminal Liability? Maybe. Texas protects property owners from criminal liability against trespassers in certain circumstances. The Texas Penal Code provides that Gail Derrnit is justified in using force to remove a trespasser if he believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the trespass. Derrnit is also justified in using deadly force if: (1) he reasonably believes that it is necessary to use force to prevent or terminate the trespass; and (2) he reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to prevent the trespasser from committing certain crimes, such as arson, burglary, or robbery.

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor

Call a law enforcement officer. Shooting someone and killing them is always a homicide. It may be justified, absolving Derrnit of criminal responsibility for the act if, and only if, there is a provable, defensible justification for use of deadly force. Generally, the exception requires a belief that deadly force is reasonably necessary to protect Derrnit’s life or the infliction of serious bodily injury to him or someone else. Gaul is also allowed to use deadly force to protect his property or the property of others in certain limited circumstances, for example, to prevent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, theft during night time or criminal mischief during the nighttime.

  • 29

    Shoot the.bastards and be done with it. Bury ’em with a track hoe or tractor, throw some lime over them and fix the fence.

    • Junk Mail

      Wish it were that easy. Crime would be way down.

      If the dems get there way you will have to use a plastic spoon to defend yourself. Or just call your unarmed police officer to come help you.

      • 29

        It is that easy. Contrary to the confusion that the article tries to conjure up. Texans can indeed wield deadly force at night to stop acts of vandalism, theft & criminal mischief. Against any citizen and/or non citizen. It’s in our Texas Penal Code.

        It’s time for us all to Cowboy up and do what it takes to protect our borders and our great republic.

        No Mas!

        • Doc

          it plainly states that you can use deadly force for arson, vandalism, theft & criminal mischief .it does not say night or day but it is either
          You need to read it again

          • gypsy

            Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:

            (1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and

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

            (A) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or

            (B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and

            (3) he reasonably believes that:

            (A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or

            (B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

          • Doc

            Not sure why you are reposting the same article above my statement
            What are you saying or asking

          • gypsy

            I posted directly from the Penal Code. There are provisions for “at night”. I’m not sure where the confusion is. Either you misinterpreted the penal code, or I misinterpreted your comment.

          • Doc

            The problem is only part of the law is being shown in this article

            There is no such thing as a castle doctrine in Texas law nor is there a stand your ground law
            You can use deadly force during the daytime
            An exception may be if someone steals your TV and it is insured ,you have a way to recover it by means other than deadly force
            Read this article it may help

      • disqus_ePwKhYD8J9

        =] I’m sorry, but Blue states have less violent crime than Red states, on average. You can look it up…if you care about actual facts.

      • disqus_ePwKhYD8J9

        State Violent Crimes / 100k
        Alabama 636
        Nevada 636
        Tennessee 608
        New Mexico 597
        Florida 541
        Louisiana 515
        South Carolina 498
        Delaware 489
        Arkansas 480
        Maryland 446
        Missouri 443
        Alaska 427
        Michigan 427
        Oklahoma 406
        Texas 406
        Arizona 400
        California 396
        Massachusetts 391
        New York 382
        Georgia 377
        Illinois 370
        Indiana 365
        Kansas 349
        North Carolina 330
        South Dakota 327
        Montana 324
        Pennsylvania 314
        Colorado 309
        West Virginia 302
        Wisconsin 290
        Washington 285
        Ohio 285
        Nebraska 280
        Mississippi 279
        Iowa 274
        North Dakota 265
        New Jersey 261
        Hawaii 259
        Connecticut 237
        Oregon 232
        Minnesota 229
        Rhode Island 219
        Utah 216
        Idaho 212
        Kentucky 212
        Virginia 196
        New Hampshire 196
        Wyoming 196
        Maine 128
        Vermont 99

      • disqus_ePwKhYD8J9

        For example, California has less violent crime, per capita, than does Texas. =] Reality does not conform to preexisting notions/bias. The most “armed” states are the most dangerous states to live in — but, not to worry, they’re also the states in which you live the shortest lives. Another fact you could look up.