If you find yourself facing charges despite believing you acted in self-defense, Ohio’s laws may provide important protections for your case. Understanding when self-defense is a viable argument and what you need to do to protect yourself is essential. 

Definition of Self-Defense in Ohio

Self-defense is a legal doctrine that permits people to use reasonable force to protect themselves from physical harm or the threat of harm. In Ohio, you must reasonably believe that either you or someone else is at immediate risk of death or severe injury for self-defense to be valid. 

The Level of Force Must be Proportionate

Additionally, the level of force you use in response should be what any reasonable person would deem necessary under those same circumstances to prevent such harm from occurring. For example, if someone punches you and starts to walk away, it would not be reasonable to shoot them in the back as they’re leaving, and self-defense would not work in this situation.

What Does “Reasonable” Mean? 

Understanding what “reasonable” means in this context is one of the most important aspects of using this defense. When determining if a person has a reasonable belief of imminent harm or death, it’s about understanding what an average person would consider appropriate under the circumstances if they were in the defendant’s shoes. 

The judge or juror must take into account facts such as the defendant’s physical attributes, any knowledge about the situation or threat, and other pertinent conditions existing during the incident.

It’s not just a question of whether you believed you were acting reasonably. It hinges on whether that belief aligns with how an ordinary person with similar characteristics and knowledge would have perceived and reacted to the same danger at that moment. 

No Duty to Retreat in Ohio

In Ohio, you’re not legally required to make an attempt to retreat from harm if you are facing a threat as long as you are legally permitted to be on the property where the incident occurs. Additionally, you cannot be the initial aggressor in the situation.

The Castle Doctrine in Ohio

Similar to the general self-defense laws in Ohio, the Castle Doctrine gives you permission to protect yourself in your own home – your “castle” – without the duty to retreat first. If someone unlawfully enters or attempts to enter your residence, Ohio law presumes you may use force, including deadly force, if necessary. 

What To Do If You Use Force To Defend Yourself

If you’ve had to use force to defend yourself, it is crucial to respond in a way that protects yourself and your future. The following are some of the steps you should take: 

Make Sure You’re Safe 

After you’ve used force to defend yourself, ensure you’re not in danger before you take any further steps. If you are still in danger, try to get somewhere safe and out of harm’s way.

Call the Police

Call 911 as soon as possible to let them know what happened. This creates an official record and could support your self-defense claim later on. If you have a weapon, make sure the police know you are armed and ask them what they want you to do with the weapon so they don’t view you as a threat when they arrive.

Get Witness Information

If there are people who saw what happened, get their names and contact information if possible – they could provide crucial testimony later on to support your account of the incident. They can offer a third-party perspective on what occurred and may corroborate that you had a legitimate reason to use force in self-defense.

Obtain Medical Care

If you have any injuries, see a doctor as soon as possible. Any injuries you’ve sustained will be important for your case moving forward.

Consult an Attorney 

Consult a lawyer who specializes in self-defense cases. They can guide you through the legal process, help prepare your defense, and ensure your rights are protected. Avoid discussing the situation with anyone but your lawyer, as anything you say can be used against you by the police and prosecutors and could lead to your arrest.

Contact Our Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorneys If You Used Self-Defense To Protect Yourself

If you have used force in self-defense, it’s essential to know your rights and ensure you have legal assistance. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202
United States