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What Are Ohio's Self Defense Laws? January 12, 2020

Central Business District, Cincinnati
What Are Ohio's Self Defense Laws?, Cincinnati, Ohio

When someone assaults you, your primary concern is to protect yourself. This often means choosing self-defense, which could later require hiring a defense attorney and facing criminal charges. Before you find yourself in that situation, this overview will help you learn more about how Ohio deals with these incidents.

What Is Self-Defense & When Can You Use It?

Previously, proving self-defense was a burden on the defense attorney and his client, but recent changes to the law have reversed this situation. Now, the burden of proof is on the state to show that you did not act in self-defense. This change is significant because, previously, a defendant charged with a felony had to prove that they did not instigate or escalate the violence. When a gun was used as self-defense, the defendant had to prove they were justified in using deadly force.

With the new changes to the law, police officers and prosecutors must prove their case instead. They must show that the defendant did not have the right to use deadly force. They must also give evidence that the defendant instigated or escalated the conflict.

defense attorneyWhile this law brings Ohio up to speed with self-defense laws in the other 49 states, it does not change the state’s castle law. The castle doctrine makes it lawful for gun owners to use their weapons to defend their homes or vehicles. It is still legal for people in cars and houses to use firearms to protect against intruders.

What Penalties Could You Face? 

If the state is trying to disprove that you acted in self-defense, you should hire a defense attorney. You may be charged with voluntary manslaughter if the prosecutor feels they can convince a jury. Voluntary manslaughter involves the intentional killing of another, but without the pre-planning requirement that is necessary for a murder charge. Voluntary manslaughter involves crimes of passion, where an individual acted without considering the consequences.

Voluntary manslaughter is a first-degree felony, carrying a penalty of 3 to 11 years in prison. If this is your first offense, your defense attorney may negotiate for a lesser sentence, but that will depend on your case.


The changes to the law ensure people aren’t discouraged from defending themselves. If you assaulted and forced to protect yourself, consult a defense attorney shortly after the incident. The law firm of James F. Bogen Attorney at Law in Cincinnati, OH, will help you find out if the state is filing charges and can help you prepare for your defense at trial. To discuss your situation, schedule a consultation online or by calling (513) 503-7251.

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