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'Stand your ground' did not extend to Texas neighbor's home

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As many Texans know, stand your ground laws have been under public scrutiny as of late. Many believe the law permits an individual too much leeway to make violent decisions. However, when defending one's self, it is imperative to have laws which protect the reasonable efforts an individual makes to save his own life. Without such protective laws, a person may be forced to choose between a misdemeanor or felony criminal charge, or self-preservation.

A Texas man was recently convicted of homicide for the death of his neighbor. During the criminal trial, the man used the stand your ground law as his defense.

On a night in 2010, the 47-year-old Texan was disturbed by the constant and loud music booming from his neighbor's home. He went to the home and got in an argument with the neighbor. The accused man actually videotaped some of the event. He can be heard informing a dispatcher that his life was in danger. Someone then appeared to grab his camera. The last voice recorded is the man's own, stating that he was standing his ground. He then shot the neighbor.

Closing arguments were delivered and the jurors deliberated for five hours. As the prosecution noted, Texas' version of the stand your ground law, called the Castle Doctrine, extends beyond the home to a vehicle and workplace. An individual using the defense cannot provoke the attack or be doing anything illegal at the time.

The Texas man argued he used appropriate behavior to be within the protection of the law. He stated he simply went to the neighbor's house to complain about music, not to provoke anything. He was carrying a handgun at the time, and he possessed a valid conceal and carry permit.

In spite of these arguments, the jury convicted the man. Some experts conclude that the decision in this case clarifies the Texas stand your ground law by delineating more specifically what it means to provoke someone. However, according to the experts, the law itself is not likely to be changed by the decision.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Texas jury convicts man in stand your ground case," Juan Lozano, June 13, 2012

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