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“Castle Laws” Change Self-Defense Rights

Ohio’s passage of Senate Bill 184 on Sept. 9, 2008, and of Senate Bill 17 effective Sept. 30, 2011, marked numerous changes to the state’s self-defense laws and concealed carry laws, including adding provisions known as “castle laws,” which have also been enacted in 47 other states. 

Ohio law previously required the victim of a home invasion to retreat before using deadly force against the intruder; a person who used deadly force in such a situation had to prove in court that he or she acted out of fear of serious physical injury or death.  

Ohio’s self-defense laws now give homeowners more rights to protect themselves. In addition, S.B. 184 and S.B. 17 have loosened restrictions on concealed handgun license holders regarding carrying and renewal requirements.

Q: If someone enters my home illegally, and I shoot her in self-defense, does S.B. 184 protect me from being arrested for protecting myself and my family?
A: Generally, yes. Ohio’s “castle laws” presume you have acted in self defense or in defense of another when using deadly force against someone who has unlawfully entered your residence or vehicle. If you were to be charged, the prosecution would have to prove that the intruder did not enter your house or vehicle with the intent of causing harm.  

S.B. 184 also bars criminal offenders from recovering damages for injuries they receive from their victims while engaged in criminal conduct. You can now defend yourself in your home without worrying that your attacker will be able to recover for injuries incurred during the intrusion.  

Q: Are there any other S.B. 184 or S.B. 17 provisions that might affect me?
A: Yes. These bills made several modifications to the 2004 concealed carry law. If you have a concealed handgun license (CHL), you may now carry a loaded handgun in your vehicle. Under S.B. 17, if you are a CHL holder, you do not have to keep your gun in a closed glove box or console box. The penalty for failing to notify a law enforcement officer that you have a concealed handgun license has been reduced to a minor misdemeanor.  

Previously, you could not carry a concealed weapon into any room where liquor was dispensed. As of Sept. 2011, if you are a CHL holder, you may bring your gun into bars and other places where liquor is sold. However, if you bring a gun into a bar, you are not allowed to drink any alcohol and you are not permitted to bring a gun into any bar or other business that posts a sign banning weapons. 

Further, only certain government buildings designated in the law are off limits for “concealed carry,” and you may now carry a concealed weapon into a building that is used primarily as a shelter, restroom, parking facility, or rest facility—as long as there is no sign posted that bans weapons.  

The law also decriminalizes carrying a concealed weapon in a school safety zone while immediately in the process of picking up or dropping off children at school, so long as the licensed holder of the weapon remains in the vehicle.    

Q: How has S.B. 184 changed the rules for renewing my concealed handgun license (CHL)?
A: You are no longer required to bring a color photograph or resubmit your finger prints when you renew. While prior law required that you renew your license at least 30 days before it expired, the new law says that you may renew your license any time before it expires, as long as you don’t try to renew earlier than 90 days before expiration. Further, if you have had a criminal conviction in the past that has been sealed or expunged, it cannot be used to deny you a CHL.

Q: Can my landlord keep me from having a gun if I have a CHL?
A:
No. Landlords can no longer restrict or deny tenants who have a CHL, or guests of tenants who have a CHL while the tenant is present, to keep and bear arms on the rented premises. Also, a homeowner is not required to have a CHL to lawfully carry a concealed weapon in his or her home. 

Q: What does S.B. 184 say about keeping an unloaded gun in a vehicle?
A: Senate Bill 184 changed the definition of “unloaded firearm” as it pertains to vehicles. Now for the gun to be considered unloaded, it may not have ammunition in it, nor can ammunition be loaded into a magazine or speed loader anywhere in the car.

3/4/2013

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was originally prepared by Columbus attorney Michael L. Close of Wiles Boyle Burkholder & Bringardner, and updated by Douglas Riddell and Bridget Purdue Riddell of Riddell Law LLC.  

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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