Can I Defend Myself in an Ohio Mall Parking Lot?

The following is a video transcript.

I wanted to talk to you about defending yourself while out and about this holiday season. Obviously, Christmas brings with it the inevitable shopping season. And while many of you might be like me and do as much of your shopping from the convenient confines of your own home, many of you still enjoy heading out to the malls and shops to get the full experience. If you are so brave, then situational awareness is a must. In layman’s terms, it boils down to knowing what’s going on around you at all times and then using that information to make decisions.

So you might be asking yourself, “Why am I talking about this? I thought we were talking about Christmas.” Well, when you’re out and about in all of that chaos which is the Christmas shopping season, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Not everyone is full of cheer, after all. Thefts and assaults in mall parking lots are not uncommon.

And remember, it’s winter time. It’s cold. People’s emotions and mental well-being are taxed around this time of year and you never know what’s going on in their head. Some people may simply be looking for a handout, and may be aggressive about it. Some may want to use force in taking your newly purchased gifts as you exit the store and return to your car. And some may otherwise be contemplating some level of random violence.

Regardless of the situation, you can always use force to defend yourself. The level of force will be determined by the situation. Let’s focus on the mall parking lot as our example. You’ve traveled around all day buying things from different stores, and you park and enter the mall, your backseat now full of bags. When you exit the store, you find someone in your vehicle attempting to steal your packages. Maybe they’ve even broken out the window to gain access. You cannot use your firearm and deadly force to protect property in the State of Ohio. So if you find someone stealing packages from your car, you cannot shoot them to prevent the theft.

If the confrontation with them turns violent, then the situation has shifted from what began as a property crime to one now of assault, and deadly force may be justified (again, depending on the circumstance). Remember, you may use basic physical force to stop someone from stealing your property, just not deadly force. If it isn’t a property crime, but an assault situation, then Ohio’s Self-Defense Law dictates only the amount of force necessary to prevent the assault may be used. And you can never use deadly force unless you have that bonafide belief that you’re going to be killed or suffer great bodily harm.

All that being said, always remember to be aware of your surroundings, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

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