Improperly Discharging a Firearm    

The Ohio Revised Code § 9.68 upholds Ohioans’ ability to keep and bear arms as “a fundamental individual” and “constitutionally protected” right. However, state law also sets certain restrictions on when and how a person may lawfully use a firearm. Other sections of the Ohio Revised Code outline these restrictions and establish that a person who violates them is guilty of improperly discharging a firearm. 

If you have been arrested for improperly discharging a firearm in Cincinnati, you are in a serious legal situation that could result in life-changing penalties. You may want to consider hiring a lawyer who has ample experience with this type of charge and is ready and able to protect your rights. 

Joslyn Law Firm has successfully handled more than 20,000 criminal cases. Our principal attorney, Brian Joslyn, is recognized as one of Ohio’s most skilled criminal defense attorneys and has received awards from a variety of prominent organizations, including Columbus CEO Magazine, Super Lawyers rating service, and The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Joslyn is included in Martindale-Hubbell’s Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and has also earned the AV Preeminent rating. The AV Preeminent designation is reserved for a small percentage of attorneys who have achieved the highest ranking of professional excellence for their ethical standards, communication skills, and legal expertise. 

Cincinnati Attorneys for Improperly Discharging a Firearm 

Weapons-related charges in Ohio can have serious implications. If a court convicts you of improperly discharging a firearm, the consequences could affect your job, your family, and many other aspects of your life.

If you learn that you are being investigated for this offense, it is important that you know your rights. Do not let investigators interrogate you without legal counsel. Invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. Call us and say nothing until we arrive.

Our lawyers have many years of experience with Cincinnati police, prosecutors, and judges. Our familiarity with the key players who will determine the criminal charges against you will help us devise the most effective strategy in defending your case.

Prosecutors must prove intent to convict you of improperly discharging a firearm. Weakening any evidence the prosecutor has of your intent is just one of several defense strategies we could raise to avoid a conviction. The defense best suited for your situation depends on the unique circumstances of your case. Our legal team will investigate and use our deep knowledge of Ohio law, along with the prosecution’s evidence, to construct the most effective defense against your charge. 

Joslyn Law Firm’s understanding of Ohio criminal law has made us the go-to source for a broad range of media outlets. Reporters from The Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, and local affiliates for ABC, CBS, and FOX frequently reach out to us when they are covering stories that require a knowledge of state criminal law. 

Call Joslyn Law Firm today so we can put our knowledge and passion for protecting the rights of Ohio’s accused to work for you. You can reach us for a private, no-obligation consultation at (513) 399-6289.


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Information Center for Improperly Discharging a Firearm in Cincinnati, OH


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Overview of Improperly Discharging a Firearm in Ohio

Ohio statutes specify several circumstances in which you could be guilty of unlawful discharging of a firearm. We shall review the various components of these laws here. 

Discharging a Firearm Into an Occupied Dwelling or School Zone

Ohio Revised Code § 2923.161 stipulates that you cannot “knowingly” discharge a firearm in the following locations: 

  • Any occupied structure (see Ohio Revised Code 2909.01 for the definition of this term) that serves as the residence, temporary or permanent, of another person

  • Within, into, or at a school safety zone

The statute further makes it illegal to discharge a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school building or its boundaries with the intention of: 

  • Physically harming someone in the school or at a school-related activity
  • Creating panic or causing fear of physical harm to someone inside the school, a school building, or a school-related function
  • Prompting evacuation of the school, a school building, or a school-associated activity

Law enforcement officers and agents from Ohio or elsewhere in the United States are exempt from these constraints, provided they discharge their firearms while acting within the scope of their duties.

This offense is charged as a second-degree felony. 

Discharging a Firearm on or Near a Prohibited Location

Ohio Revised Code § 2923.162 makes it unlawful to discharge a firearm on or near prohibited premises. These areas include on or over:

  • Cemeteries, or within 100 yards of a cemetery, without permission from proper authorities (unless you are on land you own)
  • Lawns, parks, pleasure grounds, orchards, or grounds belonging to a church, school, inhabited dwelling, charitable institution, or another person (unless you are on land you own)
  • Public roads or highways

How This Offense Is Charged 

If you discharge a firearm in violation of the above rules related to cemeteries or lawns, parks, and so on, you could be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

If you discharge a firearm on or above a public road or highway, you could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. However, if by discharging the firearm you create a substantial risk of physical harm, or you damage property, you could be charged with a third-degree felony.  

If you physically harm a person in the process, the charge becomes a second-degree felony. Finally, if you cause serious physical harm to a person, the offense is a first-degree felony. 


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Penalties for Improperly Discharging a Firearm in Cincinnati, OH

A person convicted of improperly discharging a firearm in Ohio faces a range of possible penalties

Penalties for Felonies 

  • First degree: 3-10 years in prison and fine of up to $20,000
  • Second degree: 2-8 years in prison and fine of up to $15,000
  • Third degree: 1-2 years in prison and fine of up to $10,000
  • Fourth degree: 6-18 months in prison and fine of up to $5,000
  • Fifth degree: 6-12 months in prison and fine of up to $2,500

Penalties for Misdemeanors 

  • First degree: up to 180 days in jail and fine of up to $1,000
  • Second degree: up to 90 days in jail and fine of up to $750
  • Third degree: up to 60 days in jail and fine of up to $500
  • Fourth degree: up to 30 days in jail and fine of up to $250

Collateral Consequences

A criminal conviction for improperly discharging a firearm in Cincinnati could also carry any of a variety of collateral consequences, including the following:

  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Paying restitution to victims
  • Surrendering your firearms
  • Drug or alcohol rehabilitation
  • Covering investigation and prosecution costs
  • Deportation (felony)
  • Loss of the right to own or use a firearm (violent felony)
  • Loss of government benefits (felony)
  • Loss of custody rights (felony)
  • Temporary loss of voting rights (felony)
  • Dishonorable military discharge (felony)

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Evidence in a Case of Improperly Discharging a Firearm in Cincinnati, OH

In any Cincinnati criminal case, the burden of proof falls on the prosecutor. As the defendant, you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This standard involves proving every element of the offense as defined in the Ohio Revised Code.

Furthermore, prosecutors must typically establish the offender’s mens rea, or criminal intent (read more about mens rea at Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute). However, the requirement of intent differs from one type of discharging a firearm offense to another. 

Intent for § 2923.161

For cases involving an occupied dwelling or school zone (Ohio Revised Code § 2923.161), the prosecution must prove that the alleged offender “knowingly” and “intentionally” committed the act of pulling the trigger. In other words, accidental discharges do not constitute a violation of Ohio law.

Intent for § 2923.162

However, in cases related to prohibited premises (Ohio Revised Code § 2923.162), the prosecution need only prove that the defendant caused the firearm to discharge. They do not need to prove that the defendant intended to fire on the prohibited premise or to harm an individual or property.


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Defenses Against Improperly Discharging a Firearm in Cincinnati, OH

Our legal team will review the facts of the case, along with all the prosecution’s evidence, to determine which defense strategy could generate the best outcome for you.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, some of the defenses we could raise on your behalf are as follows: 

  • The statute did not apply to you (you were the owner of the dwelling, or it was not occupied)
  • Lack of Intent
  • Self-defense or defense of a third party
  • Insanity
  • Necessity (to prevent a “greater harm”)
  • Mistake of fact

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Resources for Improperly Discharging a Firearm in Cincinnati, OH

The following are resources containing information relevant to the use of firearms and related criminal charges in Ohio.

State v. Fogler, the Ohio Court of Appeals

The Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed a conviction of Christopher A. Fogler, the defendant-appellant. Fogler had admitted to loading a shotgun, cocking the hammer, and aiming it at the front door of Greg Tumbiola’s apartment. However, Fogler claimed that the weapon accidentally discharged. A court convicted him of knowingly discharging a firearm into an occupied structure, and he was sentenced to five years in prison. 

In his appeal, Fogler’s attorneys argued several points of error, one of which was that the trial court did not instruct the jury on the defense that Fogler discharged his gun by accident. The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s conviction because the judge had instructed the jury that it could not convict Fogler unless they were convinced that he “knowingly” discharged a firearm into an occupied structure. 

National Rifle Association of America Institute for Legislative Action

This page of the NRA-ILA website reviews Ohio gun laws, starting with the state’s constitutional provision regarding Ohioans’ right to bear arms. Visit the page to see state laws regarding permits to purchase, registration, licensing, and permit to carry. The page also features an interactive map of the United States depicting states that recognize Ohio’s gun permits. You can also visit to stay on top of relevant, gun-related news in Ohio.

Ohio Attorney General – Ohio’s Concealed Carry Laws and License Application

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost published this manual, which summarizes the state’s concealed carry laws. The publication addresses changes that took effect on April 6, 2021, via Ohio Senate Bill 175, which eliminates the “duty to retreat” in a self-defense claim. 

Peruse this manual to learn about training requirements, the application process, and duties that go along with carrying a concealed handgun license. The manual also includes information about various concealed carry criminal and civil liability issues.

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts

Hamilton County provides a records search page where you can locate your criminal tickets and pay fines online. You can also locate important information related to your case. The search mechanism permits you to search county clerk records by name, case number, court and judge, attorney, and other criteria. 

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Inmate Information

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office offers an online search mechanism you can use to find an inmate housed in a Hamilton County facility. The record for each inmate contains court information, dates, descriptions of offenses, bond type and amount, disposition, and fines.


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News about Improperly Discharging a Firearm in Cincinnati

July 4, 2021

“Sheriff: Man Arrested After Shooting in Miami Township”

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s office reported that Dihierry O. Tucker was charged with one count of felonious assault and one count of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation. The victim, Travis Middleton, suffered a single gunshot wound to the lower back.

He called 911, and the officers with the Addyston Police Department and Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. They interviewed the victim, as well as witnesses, while Middleton was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treatment. The alleged offender was booked into the Hamilton County Justice Center.

April 23, 2021

“Butler County Grand Jury Indicts Two More Teens on Murder Charges in Death of Middletown Woman”

A Butler County grand jury indicted seventeen-year-old Elliot Scott Shepherd II on charges connected to the murder of a woman from Middletown, Ohio. Shepherd faces one count of murder, two counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of felonious assault, and one count of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation. 

Timathy Mychael Rhodus, also 17, was indicted for the same incident and faces one count of murder, four counts of felonious assault, and one count of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation. Eighteen-year-old Karlos Chase Philpot had been indicted in February on charges related to the same incident. 

March 4, 2021

“Fairfield Twp. Police Seek Third Suspect in Thursday Shooting”

Police arrived at Tyler’s Creek apartments in Fairfield Township after reports of a drive-by shooting. There were no injuries, although a bullet was discovered to have entered another residence nearby. Police also found multiple shell casings at the front of the residence.

When officers stopped a vehicle in the surrounding area, they found two loaded firearms. Vernon K. Mitchell reportedly was intoxicated and had a handgun and rifle in his lap. The suspected driver, Dequan Hodges was charged with a felony for complicity to improperly discharge firearms into a habitation. Darnell “King” Mooney, the suspected shooter, is still at large.

February 26, 2021

“Man Known as 'BK' Admits Firing Gun into Two Houses During Outdoor Fight”

Dylan Bacon allegedly fired a gun around five times at a man who was running away from him. Court documents report that the man was struck in the buttocks. Furthermore, another bullet entered a woman’s house through the front door, entering her living room closet. Still another bullet entered the wall of a nearby house.

No injuries were reported, but prosecutors charged Bacon with two counts of improperly discharging a firearm into a home. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a prison term of between three and four years.

December 27, 2020

“Colerain Man Arrested on Christmas for Firing a Gun Inside, Endangering Children”

Police in Colerain, Ohio arrested Brandon England for allegedly shooting a gun inside Woodmere Apartments. Reportedly, England fired two shots, one of which entered a townhome next door, with eight children. Due to a prior conviction, England is not supposed to own a firearm. 

He is charged with two counts of felonious assault, eight counts of endangering children, one count of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation, one count of using weapons while intoxicated, one count of domestic violence, and one count of having weapons under disability.


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FAQs about Improperly Discharging a Firearm in Hamilton County

Read some of the most frequently asked questions related to this type of criminal charges below.

Q. When Is Improper Discharge of a Firearm a Misdemeanor in Ohio?

In Ohio, the offense of improper discharge of a firearm is a misdemeanor if a person discharges a firearm in, at, or above cemeteries, lawns, parks, orchards, or grounds that belong to a church, school, inhabited dwelling, charitable organization, or another individual (unless you are on land you own).

This offense is charged as a fourth-degree misdemeanor. If someone discharges a firearm on or above a public road or highway, they will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.

Q. When Is Improper Discharge of a Firearm a Felony in Ohio?

Discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling or school zone is charged as a second-degree felony. Also, if you discharge a firearm in prohibited premises and cause a substantial risk of physical harm, or you damage property, the charge is a third-degree felony. If you physically injure someone, you will be charged with a second-degree or first-degree felony, depending on how serious the injuries are.

Q. Can I Go to Jail for Improper Discharge of a Firearm in Cincinnati?

Yes, you can go to jail for anywhere between 30 to 180 days if your offense is charged as a misdemeanor. For felony improper discharge of a firearm, you could face a prison term of anywhere between six months to 10 years, depending on the level of the charge.

Q. What Are the Fines for Improper Discharge of a Firearm in Hamilton County?

The fines for improper discharge of a firearm in Hamilton County depend on how the offense is charged. For misdemeanor convictions, you could pay anywhere between $250 to $1,000 in fines. For felony convictions, you could pay anywhere between $2,500 and $20,000 in fines.

Q. What Are the Defenses Against a Charge of Improper Discharge of a Firearm in Ohio?

The best defense against improper discharge of a firearm in Ohio depends on the circumstances of your case. If you are the owner of the property, that is one defense. Other defenses include self-defense, mistake of fact, lack of intent (in some cases), and insanity.


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Defense Lawyer for Improperly Discharging a Firearm in Cincinnati, OH

If you are being questioned, investigated, or arrested for improperly discharging a firearm in Cincinnati, hire a law firm that knows how to protect your rights and has experience defending people accused of crimes in Ohio. 

Our legal team is passionate about providing quality legal services. We do not judge our clients. We simply work to provide the defense they deserve. Call Joslyn Law Firm today at (513) 399-6289 for a free consultation.


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