Ohio’s new “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law officially takes effect Tuesday.
Previous Ohio law included a “duty to retreat,” meaning that to claim self-defense, someone had to show that they either tried to leave the situation or voiced an intention to leave. Ohio’s “Castle Doctrine,” passed in 2008, removed that duty to retreat for people in a lawfully occupied residence or in their vehicle.
Under the new law, there is no longer a duty to retreat as long as someone is in a place where they are legally allowed to be. In cases where there is evidence to suggest that a person used force in self-defense, the burden is on prosecutors to prove otherwise.
The new law does not otherwise change the circumstances in which deadly force can be used.
The person who is attacked, without fault of his own, may use deadly force only if he
reasonably and honestly believed that deadly force was necessary to prevent serious bodily harm or death. If the person does not have this belief, he should not use deadly force. Again, if it does not put your life or the life of others in danger, you should withdraw from the confrontation if it is safe for you to do so.
To claim self-defense, someone must be able to show that they were not at fault for starting the situation. They cannot be the first aggressor or initiator of the incident.