Stand Your Ground Law – Ohio

Ohio has historically been something of a middle of the road state on many issues, including self-defense.

ohio flag

Though generally positive, in times past the state statutes did leave some room for doubt as to the outcome for a good guy or good gal forced to defend themselves against a threat, particularly a lethal one, when it came to the judgment of their actions.

Happily, the recent passage of Ohio Senate bill No. 175 has reduced or eliminated some of the more burdensome language from the state statutes and we are overjoyed to report that Ohio is now effectively a stand-your-ground state when it comes to self-defense.

Keep reading to get the full scoop on self-defense laws in Ohio and make sure you check out the revised statutes in light of the passage of S.B. 175.

'Stand Your Ground' law is now in effect in Ohio

What You Need to Know

  • Citizens in Ohio are allowed to use force, including lethal force, to protect themselves or someone else so long as the defensive force used is in proportion to the unlawful force being used against them.
  • The state of Ohio presumes that the use of lethal force is justified when a defender uses it to stop the unlawful entry of an occupied dwelling or vehicle.
  • Citizens in Ohio have no duty to retreat so long as they are in a place that they legally, lawfully have a right to be and are not committing any illegal act when the defensive force is used.

General Provisions

Ohio’s state statutes trend towards the wordy side, and though the recent passage of S.B. 175 has improved things for civilian defenders it has done nothing to reduce the verbosity of the subject matter.

To summarize, the good citizens of Ohio may use force to stop the unlawful use of force against themselves or another person or to prevent the commission of certain felonies.

The defensive use of lethal force is permitted when the defender perceives that the unlawful force being used against them or someone else is likely to result in death or great bodily injury.

Notably, the state of Ohio presumes a defender to be in fear of death or great bodily injury whenever they are using lethal force to protect themselves in case an attacker is unlawfully entering an unoccupied dwelling or occupied vehicle.

In any case, a defender who is justifiably using force in defense has no obligation to retreat so long as they are in a place they have a lawful right to be and are not committing or furthering the commission of any crime.

Restrictions

The justification of self-defense is not permitted in case the person claiming so was the initial aggressor or antagonist in an encounter or engaged in the commission of a crime.

It should also be noted that the wording of the statutes in Ohio does not grant specific immunity per se, but mandates that the prosecution in such a case must bring forth evidence that the defender was not acting in self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Assessment

Things are definitely looking up for self-defense minded citizens in Ohio thanks to the passage of Senate Bill No. 175.

Citizens may use force in self-defense that is proportional to the unlawful force being used against them or someone else, and deadly defensive force may be used in cases where the risk of death or great bodily injury is reasonable.

Furthermore defenders have no obligation to retreat so long as they are in any place where they have a right to be.

Relevant Ohio Use of Force Statutes

***Note: The following statutes include revisions enacted by Ohio Senate Bill No. 175. ***

Section 2901.01 – General provisions definitions.

Universal Citation: Ohio Rev Code § 2901.01 (2019)

(A) As used in the Revised Code:

(1) “Force” means any violence, compulsion, or constraint physically exerted by any means upon or against a person or thing.

(2) “Deadly force” means any force that carries a substantial risk that it will proximately result in the death of any person.

(3) “Physical harm to persons” means any injury, illness, or other physiological impairment, regardless of its gravity or duration.

(4) “Physical harm to property” means any tangible or intangible damage to property that, in any degree, results in loss to its value or interferes with its use or enjoyment. “Physical harm to property” does not include wear and tear occasioned by normal use.

(5) “Serious physical harm to persons” means any of the following:

(a) Any mental illness or condition of such gravity as would normally require hospitalization or prolonged psychiatric treatment;

(b) Any physical harm that carries a substantial risk of death;

(c) Any physical harm that involves some permanent incapacity, whether partial or total, or that involves some temporary, substantial incapacity;

(d) Any physical harm that involves some permanent disfigurement or that involves some temporary, serious disfigurement;

(e) Any physical harm that involves acute pain of such duration as to result in substantial suffering or that involves any degree of prolonged or intractable pain.

(…)

Sec. 2307.601.

(A) As used in this section:

(1) “Residence” and “vehicle” have has the same meanings meaning as in section 2901.05 of

the Revised Code.

(2) “Tort action” has the same meaning as in section 2307.60 of the Revised Code.

(B) For purposes of determining the potential liability of a person in a tort action related to the person’s use of force alleged to be in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of the person’s residence, if the person lawfully is in that person’s residence, the person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, and, if the person lawfully is an occupant of that person’s vehicle or lawfully is an occupant in a vehicle owned by an immediate family member of the person, the person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense or defense of another if that person is in a place in which the person lawfully has a right to be.

(C) A trier of fact shall not consider the possibility of retreat as a factor in determining whether or not a person who used force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence reasonably believed that the force was necessary to prevent injury, loss, or risk to life or safety.

Sec. 2901.05.

(A) Every person accused of an offense is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and the burden of proof for all elements of the offense is upon the prosecution. The burden of going forward with the evidence of an affirmative defense, and the burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, for an affirmative defense other than self defense, defense of another, or defense of the accused’s residence presented as described in division (B)(1) of this section, is upon the accused.

(B)

(1) A person is allowed to act in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence. If, at the trial of a person who is accused of an offense that involved the person’s use of force against another, there is evidence presented that tends to support that the accused person used the force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person did not use the force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, as the case may be.

(2) Subject to division (B)(3) of this section, a person is presumed to have acted in self defense or defense of another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if the person against whom the defensive force is used is in the process of unlawfully and without privilege to do so entering, or has unlawfully and without privilege to do so entered, the residence or vehicle occupied by the person using the defensive force.

(3) The presumption set forth in division (B)(2) of this section does not apply if either of the following is true:

(a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has a right to be in, or is a lawful resident of, the residence or vehicle.

(b) The person who uses the defensive force uses it while in a residence or vehicle and the person is unlawfully, and without privilege to be, in that residence or vehicle.

(4) The presumption set forth in division (B)(2) of this section is a rebuttable presumption and may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence, provided that the prosecution’s burden of proof remains proof beyond a reasonable doubt as described in divisions (A) and (B)(1) of this

section.

(C) As part of its charge to the jury in a criminal case, the court shall read the definitions of “reasonable doubt” and “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” contained in division (D) (E) of this

section.

(D) As used in this section:

(1) An “affirmative defense” is either of the following:

(a) A defense expressly designated as affirmative;

(b) A defense involving an excuse or justification peculiarly within the knowledge of the accused, on which the accused can fairly be required to adduce supporting evidence.

(2) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind that has a roof over it and that is designed to be occupied by people lodging in the building or conveyance at night, regardless of

whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent or is mobile or immobile. As used in this division, a building or conveyance includes, but is not limited to, an attached porch, and a building or conveyance with a roof over it includes, but is not limited to, a tent.

(3) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as a guest.

(4) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, that is designed to

transport people or property.

(E) “Reasonable doubt” is present when the jurors, after they have carefully considered and compared all the evidence, cannot say they are firmly convinced of the truth of the charge. It is a doubt based on reason and common sense. Reasonable doubt is not mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs or depending on moral evidence is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is proof of such character that an ordinary person would be willing to rely and act upon it in the most important of the person’s own affairs.

Sec. 2901.09.

(A) As used in this section, “residence” and “vehicle” have the same meanings meaning as in section 2901.05 of the Revised Code.

(B) For purposes of any section of the Revised Code that sets forth a criminal offense, a person who lawfully is in that person’s residence has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, and a person who lawfully is an occupant of that person’s vehicle or who lawfully is an occupant in a vehicle owned by an immediate family member of the person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense or defense of another if that person is in a place in which the person lawfully has a right to be.

(C) A trier of fact shall not consider the possibility of retreat as a factor in determining whether or not a person who used force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence reasonably believed that the force was necessary to prevent injury, loss, or risk to life or safety.

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