Non-Deadly Self-Defense

I got into a fight at the bar. He hit me first so I hit him back but I got arrested. Can’t I claim self-defense??

There’s plenty of literature out there on the use of deadly force in defense of yourself or another. But what about the use of non-deadly force?

In Ohio you do have the right to defend yourself or another person who is in apparent danger. Old Ohio law forced a defendant to prove that they acted in self-defense, however, a new law that went into effect in March of 2019 shifted the burden to the State to prove that a Defendant did not act in self-defense. What this means is that if you got into a fight at a bar and are charged with assault the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not act in self-defense.

In order to prove you were acting in self-defense it has to be shown that 1) you didn’t create the situation in the first place AND 2) that you believed you were in imminent danger of bodily harm. It also has to be shown that you didn’t use excessive force. You can only use force that is reasonably necessary under the circumstances to protect yourself from the danger. What is reasonable force? It all depends on the particular situation.

It’s important to remember that words alone do not justify the use of force. In other words, even if someone is calling you names and talking trash, you do not have the right to hit the person and claim you were defending yourself.

Despite what you might see in the movies or on TV, cases involving assault are very tricky and dangerous situations. Do not try to handle it on your own. If you find yourself charged with any kind of assault give me a call at 216-200-6765.