House Bill 228 went through many changes before it was signed into law late in 2018. The prior law stated that Ohioans had a duty to retreat if possible prior to using deadly force to defend themselves. The provision that was ultimately removed from the new law would have removed that requirement. However, the new law did not modify the Castle Doctrine in Ohio. This Doctrine removes the duty to retreat in a self-defense situation in one’s home or vehicle.
Prior to the passage of HS 228, the law required the person who used deadly force (defendant) to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he acted in self-defense. However, under the new law, the burden of proof shifts and the State must prove by reasonable doubt that the defendant was not in fear of his or her life and that the claim of self-defense is inappropriate. This makes Ohio fall in line with 49 other states who make the State prove it was not self-defense. This will help to ensure that the person who used deadly force in self-defense is presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, this shift in burden of proof may result in more trials in cases resulting from the use of deadly force and the claim of self-defense.
However, it is always good to remember that the use of deadly force is a measure of last resort and this new law is not an authorization to shoot first and think second.
Written by Attorney Heather Moseman.
Excerpted from Attorney At Law Magazine Ohio Vol. 5, No 2. An article by Madelyn J. Grant.