Exploring the Legal Loophole That Once Justified Murder in Texas
Did you know that there was a time when catching your spouse in an adulterous act could be a license to kill?
Oh yes, at one time there was a Texas law allowing justifiable homicide in such cases. So let's step back into an unorthodox time in Texas history that was not as far back as you would think.
Once upon a time, in the wild, wild West—or more precisely, in the great state of Texas before 1974—forsaken husbands could find solace in the arms of the law. According to Article 1220 of The Texas Penal Code from 1948
Homicide is justifiable when committed by the husband upon one taken in the act of adultery with the wife, provided the killing takes place before the parties to the act have separated. Such circumstances cannot justify a homicide where it appears that there has been, on the part of the husband, any connivance in or assent to the adulterous connection."
This means Lone Star State generously allowed these heartbroken men to draw their six shooters and claim justifiable homicide as long as they were out of the loop. The Texas law even said the husband doesn't even need to be in a state of passion to pull the trigger.
Strangely enough, although the law provides a justification for the outright killing of the cheating wife's paramour, it does not justify any harm done without the intent to kill.
A famous example of this law successfully being used as a defense was in a 1950 murder case where a hitchhiker was declared not guilty by Amarillo courts after murdering a man after discovering his wife, naked in bed with another man.
But alas, all things must come to an end. In 1974, the Texas legislature decided to reel in the madness and repealed this strange provision. No longer could husbands brandish their firearms in the name of fidelity.
Although divorce courts can get messy, let's be thankful that we no longer live in a time where killing was seen as a reasonable answer. Because although bullets are cheaper than divorces, they really do make a pretty big mess of things.