Self defense is one of the most confusing, yet often talked about, affirmative defenses that exist in Ohio criminal law. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what constitutes self-defense, but very few people know how it actually works. As a Cleveland criminal attorney, I have successfully convinced a jury that clients acted in self-defense and therefore are not guilty of the charges they faced.
One such example is State of Ohio vs. Betliskey, Cuyahoga County Case CR 10-540093. In that case, Mr. Betliskey was charged with Attempted Murder and two counts of Felonious Assault, he faced a possible prison sentence upwards of twenty-six years. However, because his claim of self-defense was properly raised he was acquitted of all charges.
So what exactly is self-defense? There are technically two versions, one for the use of deadly force and one for force that is considered less than lethal. The use of a weapon, or object that would not normally be a weapon (think of a lamp) constitutes deadly force. Pushing someone away from you probably constitutes less than deadly force. The most important element of self defense that often results in the defense not being successful is proof that the Defendant did not contribute, and was not responsible, for the situation escalating to the point where self-defense was needed. For instance, if you point a gun at someone and then try to claim self-defense after they react, your defense will not be successful. However, if someone comes into your house during the middle of the night and threatens your life you are probably entitled to use deadly force.
It is important to speak to a criminal lawyer who knows how to employ the self-defense defense because if not done correctly the court will not even let the defense go to the jury – meaning that you have now admitted you did what the prosecutor claims, but the jury can not consider self-defense.