What Is Your Right To Self-Defense In Ohio? Part II: Using Nondeadly Force

What Is Your Right To Self-Defense In Ohio.  Part II: Using Nondeadly Force

By James D. Owen, Columbus Criminal Defense Lawyer

Under Ohio law, a person may use reasonable force to defend or protect oneself, even when faced with a danger less than death or great bodily harm.  See State v. Fox, 36 Ohio App. 3d 24 (9th Dist. Summit County 1986).  Only a person who “was not at fault in creating the situation giving rise to the affray” may resort to the use of force.  See State v. Thomas, 77 Ohio St. 3d 323 (1997).  This means that the defender cannot have started, or have been the first aggressor, in the incident. 

The degree of force that a person defending himself may use depends upon what appears necessary to protect himself from what he reasonably believes is an imminent danger.  The key is the reasonableness of the conduct of the person who is defending himself.  It is not justifiable to use a greater degree of force than is necessary to defend oneself.  The duty to retreat only applies to the use of deadly force, and does not apply to a person using nondeadly force in self-defense.  The danger perceived by the person defending himself need not be actual; rather, it is only required that the defender reasonably believe that his safety is at peril.

As a practicing criminal defense attorney, I have found it common for a person who reasonably uses nondeadly force to defend himself, to nevertheless find himself charged with assault, aggravated assault, or even felonious assault.  In such a case it may be up to a jury to determine whether the person defending himself acted reasonably.  If you find yourself in such a situation, it is critical that you immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your interests by aggressively defending the charges lodged against you.

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