Explaining Ohio’s self-defense law

Breaking down Ohio' self defense law (WDTN PhotoMaytal Levi)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A Dayton homeowner shot and killed a man authorities say tried to break-in Wednesday morning.

The homeowner told investigators 22-year-old DeBrandon Jurrod Dickerson was attempting to force his way inside when she fatally shot him.

2 NEWS asked Dayton Police if the homeowner would be charged, officials say it’s early in the investigation to tell, but it appears she acted within her legal rights.

The homeowner could be protected under Ohio’s Castle Doctrine, which lays out the rules and your rights when it comes to your property.

The doctrine protects people in their home, workplace or automobile. It allows a person to use defensive force, including lethal force, if they have a reasonable sense of fear of serious bodily harm in their home, workplace or car.

“You may use up to and including deadly force, if you do so you are presumed to have acted appropriately, provided the person didn’t have the right to be in the home and provided your actions were reasonable,” said Michael Bly, Pickrel Schaeffer and Ebeling attorney.

Ohio Revised Code, Burden of proof, reasonable doubt – self defense.

“It’s not an absolute right, it’s not a license to kill. You are presumed to have acted in self defense,” said Bly.

Deadly force is not lawful if the person stopped their efforts to unlawfully or forcefully enter a home, workplace or motor vehicle and is fleeing. It is also unlawful if the person entering the home, workplace or motor vehicle is a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman is acting in official duties. Deadly force is also not justified if a person is a lawful resident of the home, motor vehicle or workplace and did not have a written order or injunction prohibiting contact with the person who used defensible force. Deadly force is also not permissible if the person in the home, workplace or motor vehicle is a “child or grandchild or otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of the person against whom the defensive force is used.” 

Bly says if you are inside your home “and you see a person walk by your window, you could be scared, but you do not have the right to shoot that person through the window and use deadly force.”

Bly also says you do not have the right to use deadly force if a person knocks on your window or walks around your car while you’re in it.


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