COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio’s new “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law officially takes effect Tuesday.

Previous Ohio law included a “duty to retreat,” meaning that to claim self-defense, someone had to show that they either tried to leave the situation or voiced an intention to leave. Ohio’s “Castle Doctrine,” passed in 2008, removed that duty to retreat for people in a lawfully occupied residence or in their vehicle.

Under the new law, there is no longer a duty to retreat as long as someone is in a place where they are legally allowed to be. In cases where there is evidence to suggest that a person used force in self-defense, the burden is on prosecutors to prove otherwise.

The new law does not otherwise change the circumstances in which deadly force can be used.

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.

Ohio Concealed Carry Laws Manual, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

To claim self-defense, someone must be able to show that they were not at fault for starting the situation. They cannot be the first aggressor or initiator of the incident.

If you escalate a confrontation by throwing the first punch, attacking, or drawing your handgun, you are the aggressor. Most likely in this situation, you cannot legitimately claim self-defense nor would you likely succeed in proving your affirmative defense.

Ohio Concealed Carry Laws Manual, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

Someone must also be able to show that they had a reasonable and honest belief of danger. This means that deadly force may only be used to protect against serious bodily harm or death.

Minor bruises or bumps from a scuffle probably do not meet the legal definition of “serious.” In court cases, rape has been determined to be serious bodily harm, as has being attacked with scissors. Serious bodily harm also may result from being struck with an object that can cause damage, such as a baseball bat or a wooden club.

Ohio Concealed Carry Laws Manual, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill into law in January, after previously signaling that he might veto it. DeWine said he was disappointed the bill did not include provisions to make it harder for “dangerous criminals to illegally possess and use guns.”

In signing the bill, the governor praised the focus on self defense.

“While campaigning for governor, I expressed my support for removing the ambiguity in Ohio’s self-defense law, and Senate Bill 175 accomplishes this goal,” DeWine said in a statement.

Opponents of the bill have said it will not do anything to protect people, especially when it comes to Black Ohioans.

“What Stand Your Ground does, it takes away the victims’ right to their day in court. You get to be the judge and the jury without any type of repercussions for it,” said Rep. Juanita Brent, (D) of Cleveland.

“This is a dangerous bill that will put Ohioans’ lives at risk,” said Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, (D) of Richmond Heights. “This is not what people meant when they asked us to ‘do something’ last year after the deadly mass shooting in Dayton.”

In his statement after signing the bill, DeWine said he will continue to push reforms that do not infringe on Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

“Everyone who cares about these issues knows that the provisions I am requesting in no way infringe upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms,” DeWine said. “They know what I am asking for is to make it harder for guns to get into the hands of criminals.”