Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.)
Title 29. Crimes – Procedure
Chapter 2901. General Provisions
§ 2901.05. Burden and degree of proof; presumption concerning self-defense or defense of another; jury instructions concerning reasonable doubt.
(A) Every person accused of an offense is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and the burden of proof for all elements of the offense is upon the prosecution. The burden of going forward with the evidence of an affirmative defense, and the burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, for an affirmative defense other than self-defense, defense of another, or defense of the accused’s residence as described in division (B)(1) of this section, is upon the accused.
(1) A person is allowed to act in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence. If, at the trial of a person who is accused of an offense that involved the person’s use of force against another, there is evidence presented that tends to support that the accused person used the force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person did not use the force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, as the case may be.
(2) Subject to division (B)(3) of this section, a person is presumed to have acted in self-defense or defense of another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if the person against whom the defensive force is used is in the process of unlawfully and without privilege to do so entering, or has unlawfully and without privilege to do so entered, the residence or vehicle occupied by the person using the defensive force.
(3) The presumption set forth in division (B)(2) of this section does not apply if either of the following is true:
(a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has a right to be in, or is a lawful resident of, the residence or vehicle.
(b) The person who uses the defensive force uses it while in a residence or vehicle and the person is unlawfully, and without privilege to be, in that residence or vehicle.
(4) The presumption set forth in division (B)(2) of this section is a rebuttable presumption and may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence, provided that the prosecution’s burden of proof remains proof beyond a reasonable doubt as described in divisions (A) and (B)(1) of this section.
(C) As part of its charge to the jury in a criminal case, the court shall read the definitions of “reasonable doubt” and “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” contained in division (D) of this section.
(D) As used in this section:
(1) An “affirmative defense” is either of the following:
(a) A defense expressly designated as affirmative;
(b) A defense involving an excuse or justification peculiarly within the knowledge of the accused, on which the accused can fairly be required to adduce supporting evidence.
(2) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind that has a roof over it and that is designed to be occupied by people lodging in the building or conveyance at night, regardless of whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent or is mobile or immobile. As used in this division, a building or conveyance includes, but is not limited to, an attached porch, and a building or conveyance with a roof over it includes, but is not limited to, a tent.
(3) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as a guest.
(4) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, that is designed to transport people or property.
(E) “Reasonable doubt” is present when the jurors, after they have carefully considered and compared all the evidence, cannot say they are firmly convinced of the truth of the charge. It is a doubt based on reason and common sense. Reasonable doubt is not mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs or depending on moral evidence is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is proof of such character that an ordinary person would be willing to rely and act upon it in the most important of the person’s own affairs.
[Updated 7/2019. Note that Ohio shifted burden of persuasion on self-defense to the state, effective March 28, 2019]