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Ohio Residents Have the Right to Self-Defense in Many Cases

June 12, 2015 | Written by Dan Margolis

State and federal law prohibits most types of violence one person might commit against another, and severely punishes those who cause physical harm. However, there are exceptions to this rule, self-defense being one of the most important.

As a society, we accept that individuals have the right to defend themselves from a threat, such as when someone has attacked a victim or is threatening them with a weapon. In some situations, there is no reasonable choice other than to use violence to protect oneself. It would not be right to put someone in prison if, while the person is defending him- or herself, the original attacker gets hurt or dies.

Though the rules for a successful self-defense argument differ somewhat from state to state, in general a defendant must show that he or she was facing an imminent threat that caused a reasonable fear of harm. By “imminent,” the law means the threat was for immediate physical harm. Once the threat ends, so does the justification for self-defense.

The court will also determine whether the defendant’s fear of harm was reasonable. The formula is whether a theoretical “reasonable person” in the same situation would have felt an immediate threat of physical harm against them. Of course, this means what was a “reasonable” threat is open to interpretation.

Though the law recognizes a right to self-defense, it is limited. Besides expiring after the threat has passed, people have a duty to attempt at least to avoid the use of deadly force, known as a “duty to retreat.” In other words, if you could have run away, you likely will not be able to claim self-defense at trial.

Every case involving criminal charges is unique. A criminal defense attorney will be able to go over your particular case and lay out your best options.

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