How Violent is Violent Enough to get Punished in Texas?

In a tragic event in Texas, early this June, a father killed the attacker of his 5 year old daughter. The question before the court was whether this father is liable to be punished for protecting his daughter? The place where the incident occurred is a small town towards south Houston. The locals were astonished at happening of such a episode.


The people of Shiner, Texas did not require a jury’s decision to acquit the father. Almost all locals expressed their satisfaction that the man got punished (beating from the father) for committing a crime. An old couple went to the extent of saying that “I think he deserved what he got”. None of the people living in Shiner believed that the father should be charged for felony.


The police did not arrest the father even after confiscation of the dead body which was found in a battered but pants down condition. A journalist posed a question to Sheriff Mica Hermitt about his opinion on whether the father should be charged or not, sheriff, himself being a father, could gather only enough courage to say “Miss, don’t ask that question”.


Lavaca County’s District Attorney, Heather McMinn, brought the facts and law before the grand jury. According to the evidences produced by the sheriff’s department it was established, without even an inkling of doubt, that the deceased (Jesus Flores) was trying to sexually assault his daughter. She also brought to the jury’s notice that as per the penal code of Texas use of deadly force is permitted in certain circumstances (the law can be accessed at: In this case, the father could see an imminent danger to life of his 5 year old.


On 19th June 2012, it was announced in a press release that the jury had decided not to frame charges against the father as use of force was only to protect the child. The intention was not to kill but only to remove his daughter from the danger of being molested any further.


Similar law for self-defense can be found in as many as twenty three states in America. These laws are wide enough to include ‘use of deadly force’ within permissible limits for self-defense. This action in legal terms is often referred to as “Castle Doctrine”. This doctrine lays down that a person has a right to use deadly force without withdrawing to their house, property or vehicle.