In April 2023, Ohio was the last state to make Strangulation a felony offense rather than a misdemeanor. This new law is part of Senate Bill 288 that Governor Mike DeWine signed in January designed to reduce domestic violence.
Previously, prosecutors would charge defendants who were accused of strangulation with felonious assault or assault. Now with this new recognized felony offense, a defendant can be charged with both strangulation and felonious assault. Since the law came into effect in April 2023, there have been 60 strangulation cases in Franklin County alone.
This change in law is geared toward protecting more domestic violence victims. Because strangulation is now a felony charge, this can lead an accused to greater consequences and even prison time rather than the lesser consequences of a misdemeanor charge. This can create issues if a defendant is falsely accused especially in cases where there is no evidence of physical marks from the incident on the victim.
What is strangulation in Ohio?
Ohio Revised Code 2903.18 classifies “strangulation or suffocation” as any act that impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure to the throat or neck, or by covering the nose and mouth.
(B) No person shall knowingly do any of the following:
(1) Cause serious physical harm to another by means of strangulation or suffocation;
- Felony of the second degree
(2) Create a substantial risk of serious physical harm to another by means of strangulation or suffocation;
- Felony of the third degree
(3) Cause or create a substantial risk of physical harm to another by means of strangulation or suffocation.
- Felony of the fifth degree
If the level of felony can be enhanced from a 5th degree to 4th or 3rd degree in DV cases.
Strangulation and Domestic Violence:
If the victim of the violation of (B)(3) in this section is a family or household member, or is a person with whom the offender is or was in a dating relationship, violating (B)(3) is a felony of the fourth degree.
If the victim of the offense is a family or household member, or is a person with whom the offender is or was in a dating relationship, and the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony offense of violence, or if the offender knew that the victim of the violation was pregnant at the time of the violation, a violation of (B)(3) is a felony of the third degree.
What is a “dating relationship?”
A person is in a dating relationship for the purposes of an Ohio Domestic Violence case if the individuals “have had, a relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”