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Ohio Self Defense Laws

Self-defense laws vary from state to state. Certain states require a person to retreat before using force in self-defense. Other states have stand your ground laws, which remove the duty to retreat. A variety of states have a combination of these two laws, called "castle doctrine" where there is no duty to retreat when defending yourself in your home, place of business, or sometimes even your car.

Regardless of the type of self-defense laws a state has, it's usually a requirement that any force used be proportionate to the harm that's reasonably feared. There are certain states that allow an imperfect self-defense argument where the actor used self-defense because he or she actually but unreasonably believed to be in imminent danger. Usually a successful imperfect self-defense argument will reduce the defendant's liability, but will not absolve the defendant entirely.

In Ohio, there's a legal presumption that a person acts in self-defense when he or she uses force against anyone who unlawfully enters his or her residence or vehicle. Additionally, Ohio adheres to the castle doctrine, meaning that you don't have a duty to retreat before using force in your residence or vehicle. To fully understand Ohio's self-defense laws, it's important to take note of the following definitions:

  • Residence: dwelling in which a person resides, temporarily, permanently, or visiting as a guest.
  • Vehicle: conveyance designed to transport people or property, whether motorized or not.

Ohio Self Defense Laws Overview

Below you will find an overview of key provisions of self-defense laws in Ohio.


Ohio Revised Code Title XXIX. Crimes Procedure

Presumption of Self Defense There's a presumption that a defendant acted in self-defense or defense of another if he/she used force intended/likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if the person against whom the defensive force was used unlawfully entered (or was in the process of unlawfully entering) the residence or vehicle occupied by the defendant.
When the Presumption Does Not Apply

The presumption of self-defense doesn't apply if:

  • the person against whom the defensive force was used had a right to be in the residence or vehicle; or
  • the defendant used force while unlawfully in the residence or vehicle.
Duty to Retreat?

A person lawfully in his/her residence has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of his/her residence. In addition, a person lawfully in his/her vehicle, or lawfully in a vehicle owned by an immediate family member, has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense or defense of another.

Related Statute(s)

Ohio Revised Code Title XXIX. Crimes Procedure Section 2901.06 (Battered Woman Syndrome Evidence)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Ohio Self Defense Laws: Related Resources

You can learn more about laws related to this topic by clicking the links below:

Get Legal Help with Your Self Defense Case in Ohio

There are times when the use of force - even if deadly - is justified. If you've been charged with a violent crime in Ohio, but believe that you were acting in self-defense or in defense of another, it's a good idea to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Ohio to discuss your rights.

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