• Brian Foley

Are booby traps allowed in Texas?

So can you dig a tiger pit in your backyard? What about an electric fence? How far can you go in Texas to protect your property from trespassers? Well we have all seen barbed or razor wire on the tops of fences so we know there is some leeway here. The general rule is controlled by Texas Penal Code Sec. 9.44 Use of Device to Protect Property. Its the booby trap provision of the Texas Penal Code.

It basically says that YES you may have a device to protect land or tangible movable property but with a few conditions.

  1. You can't have something designed to kill.

  2. You can't have something designed to seriously injure.

So what does this mean? Probably a no go on the tiger pit. You probably would have people all over you anyway about abusing the tiger for keeping it in a pit. See Carol Baskins. But what about home alone style paint cans or marbles set up on the floor?

Well I think if the paint cans are full and can permanently disfigure the person who gets whacked in the face by them then you are going to run afoul of the Texas booby trap law. If however they are empty paint cans and serve as a reasonable deterrent to intruders you are probably okay!

If you're thinking about installing a spring loaded firearm behind your front door then give me a call before you do so and we can talk about how much your bail is going to be for the manslaughter charge you'll be facing.

Use of this blow torch booby trap would probably be illegal in Texas. However if you set it up only after believing that the unlawful use of deadly force was imminent from your attackers then you might be okay. If you set it up and leave to go to the Bahamas and find a charred burglar in your house when you return you'll need to give me a phone call . . .

Sec. 9.44. USE OF DEVICE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. The justification afforded by Sections 9.41 and 9.43 applies to the use of a device to protect land or tangible, movable property if: (1) the device is not designed to cause, or known by the actor to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury; and use of the device is reasonable under all the circumstances as the actor reasonably believes them to be when he installs the device. Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1975, 64th Leg., p. 913, ch. 342, Sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1975. Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

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