An Ohio Appeals Court has rejected an appeal in a domestic violence case. The Defendant, who allegedly beat his son with a belt, had argued self-defense and appropriate parental discipline.
The case is State v. McKinney, 2012-Ohio-4521.
The Defendant was convicted of one count of domestic violence, a felony of the fourth degree, against his 16-year-old son.
According to the son’s testimony, the defendant came into his bedroom Jarred and appeared to be angry. The defendant told his son to take the dog outside, but his son argued that it was not his turn. The son complied, but when he got back the Defendant was removing clothes from the chest of drawers in the room.
The Defendant left and returned with a belt. He told his son to take his sweatshirt off so that he could “get a whupping.” The Defendant then struck his twice in the back with the nonmetal end of the belt. During a subsequent struggle, the son received additional injuries, including a cut lip and a small cut near his left eye. The son walked to school, where his nose began to bleed again and he was sent to the office. He told the story to a Hamilton Police Officer.
The Defendant claimed that the he had punished his son for poor grades and bad behavior. The punishment included washing the dishes no use of his car, cell phone, and video games. He said that during the incident he told his son that if he didn’t improve his grades, he would get a ‘whupping.” He said he attempted to strike his son in the buttocks with the belt but that his son lunged at him and tackled him onto the nearby mattress. During the struggle, he restrained his son on the mattress and smacked him across the face “with an open hand.”
The Defendant suggested that he should have been permitted to tell the jury about his son’ prior disciplinary history, including drug use. The court disagreed. The court said that the drug use “does not go to . . . his behavior leading up to the altercation, his response to prior noncorporal punishment, the location or severity of his punishment, or [the defendant’s] state of mind while punishing his son . . .”The Defendant as permitted to testify that his son had a “disrespectful attitude” and that he had punished his son in a number of ways. The Defendant also testified about a past instance where his son had caused his mother to have a black eye.
The Defendant also argued that he should have been permitted to assert self-defense. The court said that the Defendant “essentially argues that he was exercising proper and reasonable parental discipline when he struck [his son] with the belt, but then acted in self-defense once Jarred tackled him . . .” self-defense was not appropriate because the defendant “initiated the altercation.”
The law on this issue can become very complicated. Persons facing potential domestic violence charges, as well as victims, are encouraged to contact an attorney with significant experience in domestic violence criminal defense and prosecutions.