In the summer of 2015, a man named Ziad Abu Naim and his wife were driving down a residential street in Harris County, Texas, when they came to a four-way stop. When they turned left, their car almost collided into another car that had pulled into the intersection. Abu Naim stopped to let the other driver pass however, the driver, named Robert Craig Klimek pulled his car alongside, Abu Naim’s. Abu Naim rolled down his window to look at the driver, to which Klimek shouted an inappropriate comment, targeting a certain religion. In reaction, Abu Naim got out of his car and approached Klimek’s car. After a few moments, Abu Naim’s wife heard a single gunshot and later found her husband lying on the road, shot in his face by Klimek.
In September 2015, Klimek was found not guilty for the murder of Abu Naim. His defense was centered on the Stand Your Ground law. The Stand Your Ground law, passed by the legislature in Texas in 2007, states that a person has no duty to retreat in a situation if someone tries to forcefully or unlawfully enter your home or vehicle and is allowed to use deadly force in self-defense. This law is an extension of a law called the “castle doctrine” which states if a person is assaulted in his own home, the actor has no duty to retreat before employing the use of deadly force (considered reasonable in this case).
Due to the fragile nature of dangerous situations, understanding the circumstances surrounding the scene where deadly force was used can be challenging. Moreover, individuals can misinterpret the law and believe that it supports their actions and/or protects them. Just because Texas law affords you the legal justification for defending yourself when someone attacks you, it does not exempt you from being arrested for criminal activity. For instance, the Stand Your Ground Law cannot be used to justify killing a trespasser, just because you saw them walking on your property or because they verbally provoked you on your property. If you have the right to be on someone’s property but due to a falling out, the other party attempts to use fatal force on you or if they provoke you to use force, the other party cannot justify “standing their ground”.
If you are in a situation where you believe that you rightfully used deadly force to defend yourself on/in your property but are being accused of illegal action, you must consult a defense attorney at Rad Law Firm in Dallas, Texas to review your case and to show you the strongest legal path forward. On the other hand, if you have been attacked by someone illegally using the justification of the castle doctrine or stand your ground, experienced defense attorneys at Rad Law Firm can provide you with a free consultation instantly and do their best to effectively justify your innocence under the Texas Penal Code.
Note: The “castle doctrine” and “stand your ground” are not legal terms used in the Texas Penal Code.