What Is Considered Self-Defense in Ohio?

Written By: Moermond & Mulligan, LLC

Last Updated: 04-03-2024

Posted on Wednesday, November 1st, 2023 at 9:00 am    

What Is Considered Self-Defense in Ohio

If you are facing charges for assaulting or killing another person, you are probably feeling overwhelmed and scared about the consequences for your liberty and your future. However, if you committed this act because you were in danger of harm, you may have a legitimate legal defense. The challenge comes in knowing what Ohio law considers to be self-defense. Your ability to use self-defense as a legal argument depends on where the incident occurred, whether your use of force was proportionate to the threat, and whether the law required you to initially retreat before self-defense became a viable option.

Defining “Self-Defense” in Ohio

According to Ohio law, self-defense is the use of defensive force with the intention or likelihood of killing or causing great bodily harm to another individual.

Claiming Self-Defense to a Criminal Charge

If you are charged with a crime like assault, battery, or even homicide, you may be able to claim self-defense to justify your actions. To succeed with a self-defense claim in Ohio, you must show that you had a reasonable and honest belief that you were in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. The defense applies both to using non-deadly force as well as deadly force, as long as your belief was reasonable under the circumstances. Your use of force must also have been proportional to the perceived threat. Having a qualified criminal defense lawyer argue self-defense can be essential to avoiding conviction.

What Is the Presumption of Self-Defense in Ohio?

A court must presume that a defendant was using self-defense if their injurious or fatal action occurred against a person who was unlawfully and without privilege entering the defendant’s home or vehicle.

The “Stand Your Ground” Law in Ohio

In many states, the use of self-defense is legal only after an individual has attempted to retreat from the perceived threat, if possible. Other states have “stand your ground” laws, which remove the requirement to retreat before employing self-defensive force. Ohio adheres instead to the “castle doctrine,” which is a blend of the two. According to the castle doctrine, the requirement to retreat applies in all situations except in the case of an uninvited intruder illegally entering your home or vehicle.

When Is It Okay to Use Self-Defense in Ohio?

In Ohio, you may legally use self-defense when:

  • You reasonably believe force is necessary to protect yourself or others from imminent unlawful force
  • The force you use is proportionate to the threat
  • You did not provoke the confrontation

Self-defense claims are stronger if you tried to retreat or escape the threat before using defensive force. However, retreat is not required if you are in your home or vehicle.

Common Situations Where You Might Need to Use Self-Defense

You may legally apply self-defense in situations such as:

  • Being physically attacked or threatened with a weapon
  • Attempting to stop another person from being assaulted or killed
  • Warding off an intruder breaking into your home
  • Fending off a carjacker or attacker while in your vehicle
  • Defending yourself against kidnapping or sexual assault

If Someone Assaults You, Can You Fight Back in Ohio?

You can use proportional force to defend yourself if you’re assaulted in Ohio. Punching or pushing back would generally be seen as appropriate self-defense against an unarmed attack. More force may be justified if the assailant has a weapon. The key is that your response must match the level of threat. Excessive force could negate a self-defense claim.

Factors Courts Consider When Analyzing Appropriate Levels of Violence in Self-Defense

a woman holding a textbook of ohios self defense lawsWhen considering your self-defense claim, the court may consider the following factors to determine its viability:

  • Imminence of the threat
  • Reasonableness of your fear of harm
  • Proportionality of your defensive response
  • Attempts to retreat or defuse the situation
  • Physical capabilities of parties involved
  • Weapons used by the assailant, if any
  • Prior history between the parties

Is Killing in Self-Defense Legal in Ohio?

Ohio law allows the use of deadly force in self-defense if you reasonably believe it is the only way to protect yourself or others from death or serious bodily harm. However, prosecutors may argue that killing was unnecessary if other options were available. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential if you are facing charges for a self-defense killing.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ohio Can Help You

It is always overwhelming and challenging to fight charges of assault, manslaughter, or homicide. Even if you feel confident that you have a valid self-defense claim, you need an experienced Cincinnati criminal defense attorney to protect your future.

Prosecutors come after defendants with the power of the state behind them. Hiring a skilled attorney from Moermond & Mulligan, LLC can maximize your chances of getting the favorable result you deserve. Call our team today at (513) 421-9790 or contact us online for a free consultation and let us get to work for you.

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