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Association of Prosecuting Attorneys

Texas Prosecutor Opposes State's Castle Doctrine

May 18, 2012
Texas' "Castle Doctrine" allows residents to use deadly force to protect themselves from attackers in the home, with no duty to retreat. But a top prosecutor in Bexar County opposes the doctrine and said it makes prosecution difficult. "When we take away the duty to retreat, we make it a situation that encourages violence, not discourages it," First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg said Thursday night at a forum. Herberg said Gov. Rick Perry explained it best in a conversation several years ago when he called it "a solution without a problem." When such laws were passed, their proponents could not demonstrate a single case where the wrong person had been prosecuted, Herberg said. In Florida, where Trayvon Martin was recently shot to death, the Stand Your Ground law also does not include a duty to retreat. As it stands in Texas, the doctrine protects people who use force in their homes, along with vehicles, workplaces or any place where a crime could occur. But Albert Kauffman, an associate professor of law, said a Houston legislator might introduce a bill to limit the doctrine's protection to the home.