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Proving self-defense in Ohio criminal case

You watched television at home with your family when a stranger entered your front door. He or she, armed with a gun, threatens you and demands jewelry and money. While the burglar looks away, you remove your gun from a hidden space and shoot the intruder, seriously injuring them.

Under Ohio law, for your action to be legal, the law requires you to prove all necessary elements in a self-defense case. The burden of proof falls on the person who pulled the trigger, but if proven, your act of shooting the criminal may exhibit utmost legality.

The burden of proof

Under federal law, a court presumes every accused person innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Citing the Ohio’s Castle Doctrine, which explains any person has the right to defend themselves, family, their home or vehicles, a threatened person may inflict serious injury legally.

Elements of the Ohio Castle Doctrine and the Revised Code

For a person to cite self-defense as a reason for using a weapon on another, multiple factors must hold true. All elements must be proven for you to have legally fired your weapon against the intruder.

The revised code of the Ohio Castle Doctrine explains that a person acts in self-defense or defense of another if the intruder unlawfully enters the residence or vehicle occupied by you.

You may prove unable to demonstrate that you acted in self-defense if:

  • The intruder has the right to be in the residence or vehicle
    • For example, if the intruder happens to be your spouse, child or roommate with legal access to your homestead, you may not claim self-defense under the Ohio Castle Doctrine.
  • You unlawfully enter a residence or vehicle not belonging to you
    • For example, you may not enter the home of a friend or neighbor and engage in an altercation, resulting in your firing of a weapon and claim self-defense under the Ohio Castle Doctrine.

Identifying the individual and determining that you, your family or your home proves in danger, Ohio law determines that using a weapon against the intruder constitutes self-defense. Citizens hold the right to protect their loved ones and property, but to do so, they must understand demonstrate that their action should be legal under law.

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