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Could i legally physically assault an unruly drunk guest in my home?

Goleta, CA |
Filed under: Litigation

Lets say im at home relaxing (sober) in my apartment i share with two others. One of my roomates shows up with his buddy (we arent buddies) and they are drunk and are still drinking. The drunk buddy of my roomate picks up a switchblade and walks slowly towards me opening and closing the blade but its pointed downwards to the ground and not at me while saying some insults to me. At this point i feel threatened could I legally punch this guy out? I didnt punch him out but My verbal reaction was enough to make him leave eventually, however, if it happens again i dont think i will be able to restrain myself. Thanks.

Attorney Answers 3


No, you cannot legally physically assault an unruly drunken guest at your house based upon your hypothetical set of facts. If, however, any reasonable person under the same circumstances as you would have feared for his or her life, you can use self-defense.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.

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This is a case that you need an attorney. There is way too much going on for you to get the answer and legal assistance that you are looking for. Contact a local criminal attorney and get a free consultation.
Robert Driessen

Mr. Driessen is a former Deputy DA in Orange County with over 8 years of criminal law experience. Nothing stated on this site shall in anyway be construed as legal advice, or as creating any attorney client relationship. If you would like to hire Mr. Driessen, feel free to contact him at

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DISCLAIMER: I am not your attorney. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and I. The following statements are general observations and not intended for you to rely upon them. You should contact a local attorney immediately for assistance in your case.

My recommendation is this: If you think this situation will likely happen again, then find a new place to live. Don't wait for this guy to come back with a knife and a little more liquid courage.

With that said, self-defense is allowed in certain situations. People are allowed to use physical force to protect themselves or others against harm from perpetrators. And you don't have to wait to be harmed before you physically defend yourself. The force used to protect yourself, though, must be proportional to threat. In other words, you can't bring a gun to a fist fight.

In my opinion, there would be a strong self-defense argument made in the case you presented. The issue would become whether or not the jury would agree.

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