"Castle Doctrine" generally encompasses the idea that a person does not
have a duty to retreat from the residence he lawfully occupies before using
force in self-defense or defense of another. Additionally, there is no duty
to retreat if a person is lawfully in his vehicle or is lawfully an occupant in a
vehicle owned by an immediate family member of that person.
However, being a lawful occupant of a residence or vehicle is not a license
to use deadly force against an attacker. The person who is attacked, without
fault of his own, may use deadly force only if he reasonably and honestly
believed that deadly force was necessary to prevent serious bodily harm
or death. If the person does not have this belief, he should not use deadly
force. Again, if it does not put your life or the life of others in danger, you
should withdraw from the confrontation if it is safe for you to do so.
The law presumes you to have acted in self-defense or defense of another
when using deadly force if the victim had unlawfully and without privilege
entered or was in the process of entering the residence or vehicle you
occupy. The presumption does not apply if the defendant was unlawfully in
that residence or vehicle. The presumption does not apply if the victim had
a right to be in, or was a lawful resident of, the residence or vehicle.
The presumption of self-defense is a rebuttable presumption. The term
"rebuttable presumption" means the prosecutor, and not the defendant,
carries the burden of producing evidence contrary to the facts that the
law presumes. However, a rebuttable presumption does not relieve the
defendant of the burden of proof. If the prosecutor provides sufficient
evidence to prove that the defendant created the confrontation or that the
use of deadly force was not reasonably necessary to prevent death or great
bodily harm, then the presumption of self-defense no longer exists.
Statutory Reference(s): ORC 2901.05 sets forth the rebuttable presumption.
ORC 2901.09(B) establishes that there is no duty to retreat before using force if a
person is a lawful occupant of his vehicle or a lawful occupant in a vehicle owned by an
immediate family member.