[A] reasonable person could foresee that striking another person with a closed fist may result in pain.
State v. Roesener
2022 – Ohio – 1901
Third District Appellate Court
Union County, Ohio
June 6, 2022
Mr. David Roesener was charged with violation of O.R.C. § 2919.25(A), Domestic Violence.
To prove this offense, the State needed to prove that Mr. Roesener knowingly caused or attempted to cause physical harm to his wife. his assignments of error, Mr. Roesener claims that:
- There was no physical harm as the victim only experienced a brief period of mild pain from a strike to the buttocks and
- That he had no intent to cause physical injury to her. “‘Physical harm to persons’ means any injury, illness, or other physiological impairment, regardless of its gravity or duration.” R.C. § 2901.01(A)(3).
This a colloquy between Officer Zach Schnarre and the victim was recorded on a body worn camera:
Victim: He like, kind of like punch [sic] me on my buttocks on the left side.
Officer Schnarre: Okay.
Officer Schnarre: Did it hurt when he hit you on your buttock?
Victim: At that time, yes. But it’s not that, like, badly or anythings [sic] like that.
The victim indicated that she believed Mr. Roesener struck her with a closed fist because it did not “sound” like a “smack”. On cross-examination, the victim indicated that she did not think Mr. Roesener intended to injure her and she did not wish to see him convicted.
Officer Schnarre testified that Mr. Roesener stated that he had “smacked” the victim on the buttocks. Video of Officer Schnarre’s body camera was then played. Mr. Roesener indicated he did this after she told him she had thrown his wedding ring away so they were not married anymore. This does not comport to Ohio’s marriage dissolution process. Mr. Roesener then stated that he “patted her on the butt” like one would do to a “kid sister”. On cross – examination, Officer Schnarre admitted that Mr. Roesener had never used the word smacked, that the word was his interpretation. On redirect, the video was replayed, and it showed that the following dialogue occurred.
Officer Schnarre: How’s it going?
Mr. Roesener: Good. I patted her on the butt and she’s saying that I punched her, but I didn’t. I swear to God.
Following the testimony, the trial judge made the following statements.
Both sides seem to agree that the defendant did strike the alleged victim on the bottom left buttocks. The alleged victim has testified that the slap or what I wrote down was slap or the part or whatever you want to call it. That it did hurt her and that she thought it was a closed fist. Probably not the strongest case as far as — as injuries as the defendant said. But I feel that the elements of domestic violence have been shown. I’ll therefore, make a finding of guilty.
Mr. Roesner was convicted and appealed his case to the Third District Appellate Court.
There is evidence that Mr. Roesener intended to strike the victim and that the victim suffered pain as a result, regardless of the duration. Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the State, it is sufficient to satisfy the requirement that the victim suffered a short-lived injury. The duration and gravity are not part of the consideration as to whether physical harm occurred. R.C. 2901.01(A)(3).
Likewise, the statute does not require that the offender have an intent to injure when committing the offense for it to be knowingly. The statute merely requires that the offender intended to commit the act and that the consequences of the act were reasonably foreseeable. Mr. Roesener argues that the evidence was not sufficient to support a finding that he intended the injury.
Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the State, a reasonable person could foresee that striking another person with a closed fist may result in pain. Given the evidence before the court, the judgment was supported by sufficient evidence. The assignments of error are overruled.
Information for this article was obtained from State v. Roesner, 2022 – Ohio – 1901.
This case was issued by the Third District Appellate Court and is only binding in the following Ohio Counties: Allen, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Logan, Marion, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Union, Van Wert and Wyandot.
- The Ohio Revised Code defines Domestic Violence, in pertinent part “No person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member.” [Emphasis added] R.C. § 2919.25(A). So the questions becomes what is physical harm? The Ohio Revised Code defines it as “Physical harm to persons’ means any injury, illness, or other physiological impairment, regardless of its gravity or duration.” [Emphasis added] O.R.C. § 2901.01(A)(3) Consequently Mr. Roesener striking/punching/slapping the victim on her left buttock’s cheek comported with legal requirements of Domestic Violence.
- This case is rare in that an officer made an arrest on Domestic Violence without observable physical injury. Based on the aforementioned statutes and case law interpretation, law enforcement does not need an observable physical injury to make an arrest for Domestic Violence.
- This case is highly demonstrative of the challenging tactical and legal decisions a law enforcement officer must make in real time. In most domestic violence investigations, there is visual probable cause that the aggressor committed violence against the victim. Here, there was no physical evidence. In this case Officer Schnarre lawfully gathered statements from both Mr. Roesener and the victim. Upon evaluation of those statements and without observable physical injury, he determined that there was enough probable cause to complete an arrest. The trial judge and three judges on the Third District Appellate Court also agreed. However, none of the four judges who took time to evaluate the arrest determination had to make it under the same conditions and time frame that Officer Schnarre had to and that is why Officer Schnarre should be commend.
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