May 15, 2023 | Criminal Defense
When someone is trying to steal your vehicle in Ohio, using deadly force may not be justifiable based on self-defense laws alone. Self-defense with a firearm should be employed when facing an imminent threat of serious bodily harm rather than solely to protect property. There have been cases where vehicle owners have been criminally charged for shooting at attempted car thieves.
However, the situation changes if there’s a threat to your life or the lives of others inside the car. Then, using deadly force may be considered justified.
Carjacking vs. Car Theft: Definitions and Legal Barriers
First, it’s essential to understand the difference between carjacking and car theft:
- Carjacking involves the use of force, violence, or intimidation to take a vehicle directly from the owner or occupant. Ohio considers carjacking as an assault with intent to steal a vehicle.
- Car theft simply refers to the act of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent when the owner isn’t present.
If you’re in the vehicle and someone threatens you with force and tries to steal your car, you could be justified in using force to defend yourself, as you are in danger and are not just defending your property.
However, if you simply see someone stealing your car, you cannot legally shoot them.
Understanding Self-Defense in Ohio
In the State of Ohio, self-defense laws are built on the foundation that individuals have the right to protect themselves and their property from harm. However, there’s a series of important factors and nuances to consider before taking any action:
- Proportionality: The force used in self-defense must be proportional to the threat faced. In other words, using deadly force (i.e., firing a gun) may only be justifiable if there’s a reasonable belief that you, your family, or another individual is facing an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death.
- Duty to Retreat: Ohio no longer follows a duty to retreat rule, which means that a person does not have to first attempt to escape the dangerous situation before resorting to self-defense. This applies not only to a person’s home and vehicle but anywhere that a person has a lawful right to be present.
- Castle Doctrine: The Castle Doctrine is a legal theory that allows a person to defend their life while inside their home. However, in limited circumstances, this doctrine can apply to someone in a vehicle as well.
These are not the only considerations to keep in mind, but they are some of the most prominent.
How a Dayton Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You
If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve used deadly force to protect your property, it is crucial to seek the assistance of a skilled Dayton criminal defense lawyer. Here’s how they can help:
- Understanding Your Rights – A criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your rights and explain how self-defense laws apply to your specific case.
- Review Evidence: A lawyer can investigate the facts of your case and determine if there are any mitigating circumstances that could be used to lessen the charges against you.
- Building a Strong Defense – If you are charged with a crime, your lawyer will work diligently to build the best possible defense by investigating the available evidence and presenting your side.
- Negotiating with Prosecution – If a plea deal is on the table, your lawyer will negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf to secure the best possible outcome.
- Representing You in Court – Should your case go to trial, your lawyer will advocate for your rights and interests, presenting your defense and cross-examining prosecution witnesses.
- Provide Support: A lawyer can provide emotional support and advice during this difficult time as well. Having represented people in similar circumstances, an experienced lawyer will understand the difficult time you’re going through and will do what they can to help you through it.
If you need help with a legal matter, we will do everything we can to help you. Contact Suhre & Associates to schedule a free consultation.
Contact the Dayton Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Dayton
130 West Second Street #17-129
Dayton, OH 45402