The following is a video transcript.
What do you do when an unruly party guest gets out of hand? Of course you can kick them out, but what if they won’t leave? What about someone who shows up on your property uninvited?
These people are trespassers, and Texas law protects your property rights by allowing you to decide who is and is not allowed on your property. Let’s discuss who might become trespassers and what you can do legally to eject them.
WHEN IS IT TRESPASSING?
You may eject an unwanted person from your property even if they were previously an invited guest. Once you give the unruly friend or extended family member notice that they are no longer welcome and they refuse to leave, the person becomes a trespasser. You may then use force, but not deadly force, to remove the individual from your property. On most occasions, this use of force will take the form of physically escorting or removing the individual.
WHAT ABOUT AN UNINVITED PERSON?
Uninvited guests can range from someone completely innocent, like a neighborhood kid retrieving a ball from your yard, to someone a bit more sinister, like someone sneaking around your land at night or an unknown vehicle pulling up your driveway. Even when the situation looks sinister, so long as the person is not committing or attempting to commit any offense outside of their simple trespass, you may still only use force to remove them. In Texas, the continuum of force starts with verbal commands, continues with physical force against another, and may even include drawing your firearm. Keep in mind that the force you use against the trespasser must be that which an ordinary and prudent man would consider reasonable. There are situations in which drawing your firearm may be a reasonable use of force, but evaluate your situation carefully. Pointing your gun at a high schooler taking a shortcut through your property, or at the electric company’s meter reader may ultimately get you into legal hot water. Once you pull the trigger though, even as a “warning shot,” you have crossed the line into deadly force and may be arrested, charged, and convicted for that act.
SO YOU’RE TELLING ME I CAN’T SHOOT SOMEONE BREAKING INTO MY HOUSE?
No. This person is no longer a mere trespasser, and you can use the Castle Doctrine and personal protection deadly force laws. You are no longer protecting just your property; you are now protecting yourself or family.
A mere trespasser can quickly become a more dangerous threat, so it is crucial you understand the laws in your state. If you have any questions about this issue, contact Texas LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
I have an outside wall that encompasses my entire front yard. I recently observed three young males coming over my wall, and I shouted at them and showed them my firearm. They retreated. Did I over-react?
Pretty sure if you just showed it to them but did not make any threats, its fine. It was up to their interpretation of what your gun meant haha. If you pointed at them or said anything that involved “…shoot…”, it’d be a little dangerous for you if the guys said anything to authorities even if they were trespassing. Better not to invite more trouble (I’m sure them coming into your yard was already enough trouble for you) unless they didn’t leave after you told them to leave.
Incorrect. Showing them your firearm as a threat is considered a “threat of force”. This can be a simple as turning your hip to display a holstered firearm to as obvious as drawing the firearm and saying you’ll shoot them. Since OP mentioned they shouted and showed them their firearm in response to the trespassers, it is reasonable to conclude this was a threat of force.
Firstly, know this people don’t trespass into your house for a good cause. This time they left and next time they will come prepared to get what they want.
I will call 911 and meanwhile make sure they will be shot if they move a step further and instruct them to freeze. They move and you shoot.
What if you catch someone in your yard breaking into your car or stealing the wheels? Can you shoot? Because I’m sick of thieves and have no mercy
We understand your frustration, Joe. Luckily, the Independent Program Attorneys tackled a similar question in a feature earlier in June. Check it out and let us know if you have any questions: https://www.tlsdev.com/defend-property-texas/
I absolutely love being a member of the Law Shield, this type of information is so educational and serves as a constant reminder of things we can quickly forget. Thank you US Law Shield.
If an individual followed you in a road rage manner around town and then came to your house, what are your options?
I have this neighbor. I’ve told him and his family Multiple times that he’s trespassing on my property…but he still keeps walking through my yard, in between my cars and I’ve even caught his son looking into my car, while his dog dedicated in my lawn. I put up signs and like I said, I’ve told him
And his family multiple times to stop. Even put up no trespassing signs but to no prevail. Would the police act on this? Would I need a butt ton of evidence?
I live on a very remote ranch alone and I have human detection security cameras and have caught a man walking around my house in the middle of the night multiple times. Do I have the right to use deadly force to stop him from trespassing?
We live in a not so good neighborhood and have had our house broken into twice while out of town and burglarized. We keep our chain link fence gates locked with chains and a padlock so that our dogs cannot get out, also to protect our bbq pit and other various outdoor valuables from being stolen. Our back porch has a padlock as well and we recently found a pair of Bobby pins that seemed to be worn by trying to pick our lock. If our gates are locked, and someone gets in, does that justify deadly force? Or if I catch them trying to pick the lock again, does that?
My mom called for a welfare check on me. When the cops showed up they would not leave after seeing I was safe instead they told me I was under arrest for trespassing. 9 months before there was an incident with the neighbor and I got a warning but they put my address not the neighbors. So at the welfare check the officer taking the wrong address decided to arrest me for trespassing. I was angry and told them to leave multiple times. Then I got a BB gun and waved in the general direction for a millisecond. I went in and took a nap. They called swat and declared it a stand-off. This was Jan 2, 22. The bashed my head putting me in the car. I was suicidal that’s why mom called. It’s been 6 months and they indicted me on a drug charge (illegal search) and retaliation (bogus) charge from 2030& 3/21 and what don’t get us we can have long guns in public but I was on my property. If they hadn’t wrote the wrong address in March. None of this would have happened