Innocent before guilty, new self-defense law sides with homeowners protecting their ‘castles’
COLUMBUS – A homeowner who injures, maims or even kills an intruder is on the right side of the law, starting today in Ohio. The so-called “castle doctrine” law assumes the owner was acting in self-defense and shifts the burden to police and prosecutors to prove otherwise.
Until today, people who attacked intruders had to prove they were acting in self-defense.
About 20 states have similar laws with all types of variations. Some states do not limit the self-defense presumption to the person’s home but apply it to the workplace or even on the street, if the person is threatened.
In fact, Ohio’s provision extends to inside vehicles. And, as it is elsewhere, Ohio’s castle doctrine – so named for the popular premise that ‘one’s home is one’s castle’ – is steeped in controversy.
Ohio prosecutors and police chiefs associations are against it. They say the law provides legal cover for bad guys to hurt people who had absolutely no intent of harming them.
My state, New York, is not one of the twenty that recognises the “castle doctrine”. In fact, citizens in their homes have a “duty to retreat” when faced with intruders.