What SB184 means to you: Part I – Castle Doctrine

By Jim Irvine

SB184 is 75 pages. It will go into effect on September 9, 2008. This is part of a series of articles looking at specific sections of the bill and how it will affect you. Keep in mind that I am not an attorney and this does not constitute legal advice. It is required that you read the Attorney General guide for concealed carry license holders. I highly recommend “The Ohio Guide to Firearms Laws” by Ken Hanson, Esq. (NOW AVAILABLE: Update for SB184)

Castle Doctrine is arguably the most important part of SB184. Indeed, this was the entire bill when it was introduced. As stand alone legislation it passed the Ohio Senate with a unanimous 32-0 vote. Even if every other improvement were stripped from this bill, this alone would have been a significant piece of legislation.

It is important to note that this section does not apply simply to those with a CHL, or just those who have a gun, but to all law-abiding citizens who are victims of a violent crime. No matter how you choose to defend yourself (including being pacifist), this law is important to you.

For those that are not familiar with the concept of Castle Doctrine, Ken Hanson’s Self-Defense Bill of Rights is an excellent explanation.

Before using deadly force you must establish that you did not create the situation and you must be at risk of death or great bodily harm. It is generally agreed that to satisfy that risk, your attacker must have the ability, opportunity and intent to do you arm. All three elements are required to exist at the same time for you to be justified in use of deadly force.

SB184 establishes that all of these are presumed to be satisfied if someone unlawfully enters, or is attempting to enter your occupied home or car.

Sec 2901.05 (B)(1) Subject to division (B)(2) of this section, a person is presumed to have acted in self defense or defense of another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if the person against whom the defensive force is used is in the process of unlawfully and without privilege to do so entering, or has unlawfully and without privilege to do so entered, the residence or vehicle occupied by the person using the defensive force.

This presumption does not apply when force is used against someone who is lawfully in your home (spouse or an invited guest).

Sec 2901.05 (B) (2)(a) The presumption set forth in division (B)(1) of this section does not apply if the person against whom the defensive force is used has a right
to be in, or is a lawful resident of, the residence or vehicle.

This presumption does not apply to a criminal who is there illegally. (This is not a “get out of jail free” card for criminals.)

Sec 2901.05 (B) (2)( (b) The presumption set forth in division (B)(1) of this section does not apply if the person who uses the defensive force uses it while in a residence or vehicle and the person is unlawfully, and without privilege to be, in that residence or vehicle.

This presumption may be challenged and overcome if the prosecution can prove with a preponderance of the evidence that it should not apply. (It does not prevent the arrest and prosecutions where overwhelming evidence indicates that it was not a self-defense situation.)

Sec 2901.05 (B) (3) The presumption set forth in division (B)(1) of this section is a rebuttable presumption and may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence.

In your home or vehicle (or the vehicle of an immediate family member) you may stand your ground and exercise your right to self-defense. You have no duty to retreat.

Sec. 2901.09. (B) For purposes of any section of the Revised Code that sets forth a criminal offense, a person who lawfully is in that person's residence has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person's residence, and a person who lawfully is an occupant of that person's vehicle or who lawfully is an occupant in a vehicle owned by an immediate family member of the person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense or defense of another.

Note that the above section does not remove a duty to retreat in a friend’s vehicle.

It is important to understand that all of the above apply in your occupied home, temporary residence or vehicle, not in any other place.

The following, however, is applicable everywhere in Ohio.

A person is barred from recovering money (suing) if their injury arises from their criminal behavior, including injuries sustained by acts of the intended victim. If you injure an innocent bystander (hit by a stray bullet) you may be ordered to pay damages to that person.

Sec 2307.60 (B) (2) Recovery on a claim for relief in a tort action is barred to any person or the person's legal representative if the any of the following apply:

Sec 2307.60 (B) (2) (c) The person suffered the injury or loss for which relief is claimed in the tort action as a proximate result of the victim of conduct that, if prosecuted, would constitute a felony, a misdemeanor that is an offense of violence, an attempt to commit a felony, or an attempt to commit a misdemeanor that is an offense of violence acting against the person in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of the victim's residence, regardless of whether the person has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to or has been charged with committing the felony, the misdemeanor, or the attempt to commit the felony or misdemeanor. Division (B)(2)(c) of this section does not apply if the person who suffered the injury or loss, at the time of the victim's act of self-defense, defense of another, or defense of residence, was an innocent bystander who had no connection with the underlying conduct that prompted the victim's exercise of self-defense, defense of another, or defense of residence.

Note: For clarity and brevity, not all applicable sections of law are quoted above. Not every situation covered in the law is outlined in this piece, and readers are strongly encouraged to read all applicable sections and seek professional legal advice to gain a better understanding of the law and how it will be applied in different situations.

The bottom line is that you may defend your life, or the life of another in your residence or vehicle, and have no duty to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker or invader. A criminal may not successfully sue you for damages he sustained while committing a felony or a violent misdemeanor, including injuries sustained as a result of your intentional acts (shooting him) while engaged in self-defense.

Hanson's "The Ohio Guide to Firearms Laws” updated to reflect SB184 changes

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