What is Self-Defense in Ohio?
October 31, 2023
While the basic idea of self-defense is relatively universal—defending yourself from harm—the specifics of how it is applied can vary significantly from state to state. For residents of Akron and surrounding Ohio counties, understanding the nuances of Ohio’s self-defense laws can be confusing. So, what does self-defense mean in the Buckeye State?
At its core, self-defense in Ohio allows you to use reasonable force to protect yourself or another person from imminent harm or death. However, this concept isn’t as straightforward as it seems. There are specific criteria that the defendant must satisfy to successfully assert a self-defense claim.
The key criteria for a valid self-defense claim in Ohio based on the statute are:
- The person who used force in self-defense or defense of another did not create the situation or was not the first aggressor.
- The person who used force in self-defense or defense of another had a bona fide belief that they were in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that force was the only way to avoid injury or death.
- The person who used force in self-defense or defense of another did not violate any duty to retreat or avoid the danger unless they were in their own residence or vehicle.
Ohio’s self-defense laws allow the use of deadly force in self-defense or defense of one’s residence, but there are some potential limitations and exceptions that you should be aware of. According to the Ohio Revised Code, the use of deadly force in self-defense is justified only if all of the following conditions are met:
- The person who used force was not at fault for creating the situation
- The person who used force had reasonable grounds and an honest belief, even if mistaken, that they were in imminent or immediate danger of death or great bodily harm
- The person who used force did not violate any duty to retreat or escape to avoid the danger unless they were in their own residence or vehicle
- The person who used force used reasonable force
Some of the situations that might limit or prevent a self-defense claim are:
- Public Space Restrictions: In public spaces, the duty to retreat might still apply if the person who used force knew or should have known that they could safely avoid the danger by retreating. This means that the person who used force must prove that they had no reasonable means of escape before using deadly force.
- Trespassing: Being on someone else’s property without permission can complicate a self-defense claim. The person who used force must have a legal right to be in the place where they used force. However, there is a rebuttable presumption that a person acted in self-defense if they used force against someone who was unlawfully entering or had unlawfully entered their residence or vehicle. This presumption does not apply if the person who used force was unlawfully in the residence or vehicle or if the person against whom they used force had a right to be in or was a lawful resident of the residence or vehicle.
- Use of Deadly Force: Deadly force, even in self-defense, is heavily scrutinized and must meet strict criteria to be justified. Deadly force is defined as any force that carries a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury. The person who used force must have an honest and reasonable belief that they were in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that deadly force was necessary to prevent it. The person who used force must also use reasonable force, which means that the amount and manner of force used was proportional to the threat faced.
For anyone facing charges where self-defense might be a viable argument, securing the right legal counsel is necessary. With our wealth of experience and insight, DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder stand ready to guide and defend.
Facing legal challenges? Don’t handle them on your own. Contact the seasoned Akron criminal defense attorneys at DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder online or call (330) 762-7477.