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Self Defense in Ohio

Under Ohio Law a person is entitled to use force to defend themself against another person if necessary.  Self Defense is an affirmative defense.  What raising an affirmative defense you are not disputing the allegations against you, but you are arguing that you should not be held criminally liable for your actions.  Asserting an affirmative defense, like self defense, can be very difficult and requires a detailed knowledge of the law.

To successfully claim self defense in Ohio you must show the jury:

  1. You were threatened with imminent bodily harm,
  2. You did not provoke the other person, and
  3. The amount of force you used to defend yourself was reasonable.
Reasonable Use of Force

The amount of force that a person uses has to be reasonable when compared to the danger that the person finds themself in.  A person who finds them self in a bar fight is certainly entitled to punch back.  However, if a person pushes you in the chest, you are not entitled to stab them with a knife.

Use of Deadly Force in Self Defense

The same rules that apply for non-deadly force apply for the use of deadly force.  Whether or not use of deadly force is determined by the third element of the self-defense rule, the element dealing with the reasonableness of the force used.  A person is authorized to use deadly force in self-defense only if they are at an immediate risk of death or great bodily harm.

Ohio – Stand Your Ground State

Ohio is a “Stand Your Ground State.”  Ohio’s Stand Your Ground Law went into effect in April 2021. Under the law a person does not have a duty to retreat before using force in self-defense.  Prior to the law changing, a person was not able to use force to defend themself if they were able to retreat or escape from the situation.  Now a person is authorized to use force to defend themself even if they are otherwise able to get out of the situation.  This includes the use of deadly force as long as the person is at risk of immediate death or great bodily harm.

Castle Doctrine


Ohio is one of many states that believes in the Castle Doctrine.  Under the Castle Doctrine a person does not have a duty to retreat before using self defense if they are in their own home.  However, with Ohio changing to a Stand-Your-Ground State in 2021, because there is no longer a duty to retreat anywhere, the Castle Doctrine in Ohio has either been expanded, or made irrelevant depending on how you look at it.The Castle Doctrine allows for Self Defense in your own home or car.

Defense of Others

Ohio law allows a person to use force to Defend another person, even a stranger.  In a situation where someone is using force to defend another person, the other person being helped must have had the right to use self defense to defend themself in the first place.  That means that they cannot have started the fight and they must be threatened with imminent physical harm.  The requirement that reasonable force be used still applies as well.

Defense of Property

You can use physical force to protect your property, however, Ohio Law is very clear that a person CANNOT use deadly force to protect their property.  This is true regardless of the value of the property in question.

Claiming Self Defense?

If you have been charged with a violent crime and believe you have a self defense claim you should contact an attorney.  The attorneys at Funkhouser Law have experience successfully argued self-defense at trial in felony and misdemeanors across Ohio.  Call now for a free consultation.

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