Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Houston Man Faces Grand Jury for Shooting Neighborhood Criminals

resident Joe Horn made national headlines last year when he shot two burglars who had just run out of a neighbor’s home with stolen cash and jewelry. He was hailed by many as a hero for taking the power back from the criminals and defending his neighborhood. Others decried the rash act of violence against two men who were posing no immediate threat to the life of Mr. Horn.

A Harris County grand jury is hearing evidence this week to determine whether Horn should be indicted on criminal charges or have the case dismissed. Mr. Horn is a 61-year-old retired grandfather and, according to his attorney,

"Was it a mistake from a legal standpoint? No. But a mistake in his life? Yes, because it's affected him terribly. And if he had it to do over again, he would stay inside. I don't think anybody can really appreciate the magnitude that something like this has on a person's personality."

Homeowners certainly have the right to protect themselves if an intruder has entered their home. In Texas, this right has been established by what is known as the “Castle Doctrine”. Passed in 2007, this law states that people have no duty to retreat from an intruder in his or her home, workplace or vehicle before using deadly force. However, the right to act just applies to an occupied property or vehicle, not to the assumption that criminals may be coming to your place next or that you wish to protect a neighbor. It will be interesting to see what the grand jury decides in the case of Mr. Horn, as a dismissal of charges may clear the way for a more expansive interpretation of self-defense.

At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys at our offices in Houston, Austin and San Antonio who can assist you with criminal defense needs or a wide array of other legal issues. If you need a lawyer, please contact us and we will talk about how we can help you.

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