A homeowner who injures, maims, or even kills an intruder is on the right side of the law, starting today in Ohio, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The “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. Ohio’s provision extends inside vehicles.
Ohio prosecutors and police chiefs associations are against the law. They say it provides legal cover for bad guys to hurt people who had no intent of harming them. “Defense lawyers will pick this up and use it to defend their clients who really aren’t law abiding citizens in their homes,” said John Murphy of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney’s Association. “It could be someone was dealing drugs in their house and something goes bad and so they shoot them. This is who this law will apply to.” Gun-rights advocates and some rank-and-file police officers say it is fair to shoot first and ask questions later. “If your life is in danger you don’t have to prove what the intent was of some intruder who is in your house, which was absolutely insane,” said Jim Irvine of the Buckeye Firearms Association.