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Proving Self-Defense in Criminal Cases in Ohio?

Self-Defense is what we call an affirmative defense, meaning that the defendant concedes that the State can prove every element of the charge but nevertheless should not or cannot face criminal sanctions.  In order to be successful on a self-defense claim a defendant must show the following:

                       

  • Innocence
  • Imminence
  • Proportionality
  • Avoidance
  • Reasonableness

The Defendant must prove ALL of these elements.  If one fails then the self-defense claim will fail.  If the defendant was not an innocent victim but rather was the aggressor self-defense fails.  If the threat was not imminent, OR the use of defensive force was disproportionate to the threat (e.g., deadly against non-deadly), OR there was a failed duty to retreat, or ANY aspect of the defensive use of force was not both subjectively and objectively reasonable—the defense fails.

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