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The basics of self-defense and stand-your-ground laws in Ohio

When you injure another person or cause their death, the state will likely charge you with a violent criminal offense. Especially if the incident involved a physical altercation or the use of deadly weapons, Ohio prosecutors could bring charges against you for a situation in which you acted merely to defend yourself.

Whether someone accuses you of assault or homicide, you may insist that you acted in self-defense. Understanding how Ohio defines self-defense can help you determine if an affirmative defense strategy highlighting the need to protect yourself is the right response to your charges.

When can you act in self-defense?

Ohio state law lists a specific set of situations in which someone can defend themselves without violating state law. Actions that might otherwise constitute homicide or assault are legal when committed as an act of self-defense.

In Ohio, protecting yourself from what you perceive as an immediate threat is self-defense. So too is any action you take to protect other people from a threat to their safety. You also have the right to defend your personal property even if you aren’t at risk of bodily harm.

Is there a duty to retreat?

One element that influences self-defense cases frequently is whether someone tried to leave before turning to violence. For years, Ohio required that most people retreat before engaging in violent activity to defend themselves.

Unless the situation occurred inside your vehicle or your residence, you would have to try to leave the situation before using violence with justification under the law. However, the state has since enacted changes to the self-defense statutes and expanded them to include a stand-your-ground law. Those using physical force to defend themselves no longer have a duty to retreat.

Additionally, state law extends them the presumption of innocence if the person that they acted against unlawfully entered their home or vehicle.

How do you assert a self-defense claim?

Sometimes, police officers can determine that a situation clearly involved self-defense from the security camera footage or witness statements about what happened. Other times, they may not know and may try to bring charges against you.

When you claim self-defense, you admit that you engaged in certain behaviors but affirm that you only did so to protect yourself, your property or another person. Provided that you can show you had reason to fear for your immediate safety, the safety of other people or your property, your self-defense claim could help you defeat pending charges when the state alleges that you committed a violent offense.

Learning more about the unique laws that govern criminal proceedings in Ohio can help you decide the best defense strategy when you find yourself unexpectedly facing charges.