Allegations of assault or other violent crimes risk a variety of penalties. An Ohio criminal court judge can sentence someone to jail time, probation and financial fines. A conviction or guilty plea typically leads to numerous consequences, not the least of which is the criminal record that may show up whenever someone conducts a background check.
In Ohio, it is a violation of state statutes to intentionally injure another person. Those accused of an offense may decide to take the matter to trial and defend themselves against the allegations they face. One of the more common defense strategies for those accused of acts of interpersonal violence involves claiming to have acted in self-defense.
What are the three scenarios in which someone can mount a self-defense claim in the Ohio criminal courts?
When they fear for their own safety
Perhaps the most common reason that people claim to have engaged in a violent act in self-defense is when they reasonably fear for their own safety. When the actions, body language, prior communications or recent words of an individual put someone in immediate fear for their physical safety, the person experiencing that fear has the legal right to defend themselves. If another reasonable adult would also believe that the situation posed a threat of imminent harm, then someone may have grounds to claim they acted in self-defense.
When they must protect their property
Ohio allows people to use physical force to protect their personal resources against criminal activity. Someone experiencing an attempted carjacking or a home invasion may not believe that the offenders intend to harm them necessarily, but they can still use physical force if they deem it necessary to protect their property.
When someone else is in danger
The final scenario that justifies the self-defense claim does not involve a threat to the defendant at all. If they believe that another person is at risk of a crime or if they encounter a crime in progress, they can theoretically intervene for the protection of that other person. Whether they encounter an assault underway in a public alley or witness someone attempting to rob a store, an individual can choose to act as a good Samaritan instead of turning away and ignoring the situation.
A self-defense strategy requires very different planning than other common court strategies. Understanding Ohio’s self-defense laws, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, may help people more effectively evaluate their options for fighting back against criminal charges.