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Old January 21, 2010, 12:42 AM   #10
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 8,749
Indeed there's no law against being drunk in your own home, and there's no law against defending yourself when you're drunk. And if it's a very clear case of a justified shooting, or if you have a strong Castle Doctrine in your state and the circumstances bring the event under its protection, there shouldn't be much problem. BUT, if things aren't clear cut in you favor, your intoxication could very well become a factor.

If you are claiming self defense, you will effectively be admitting that you (1) shot the guy; and (2) you intended to do it.These are the basic elements of a crime (either manslaughter or aggravated assault, depending on whether the a guy you shot dies or lives). Your defense is that shooting him met the legal standard for justification.

It will be your burden to at least put forward evidence establishing, prima facie, justification. In general (without consideration of Castles Doctrines) you would be justified in using lethal force only if a reasonable and prudent person would have concluded that under like circumstances lethal force was necessary to prevent the immediate death or grave bodily injury to an innocent. In some states this standard is relaxed in your home or on your property.

But a claim of justification is going to call your judgment into question, and alcohol impairs judgment. So if there are reasons why your particular defensive gun use is not clear cut, your intoxication makes you vulnerable to the argument that you could not, and did not, exercise appropriate judgment in connection with your use of lethal force.

So pretty much the bottom line is that your being intoxicated may or may not hurt you depending on how things happened, and depending on just how drunk you are. A BAC of 0.05 is sure going to be easier for you to deal with than a BAC or 0.15. And even if it might not hurt you, it sure isn't going to help.

For myself, I like my wine with dinner and my whiskey afterward or a cocktail from time to time, but I limit myself, just because I feel better that way.

Another thing to consider is that aside from the legal issue, if you're significantly drunk, you may not be able to deal effectively with an emergency.

You may want to have a look at this post by Antipitas: The question in that thread involved the use of handloads for self defense. Antipitas did some research in Idaho and discovered there were 12 claimed defensive shooting using handloads in the period 1970 to 2007. But of course the handload question doesn't concern us here.

What's interesting in the context of this discussion is that of the 12 claimed defensive shootings, six were accepted as self defense and went no further. Charges were brought in the other six, resulting in six convictions. Four defendants pleaded out, and two went to trial and lost. In all of those six, drugs or alcohol was involved.

True, it's not a big enough sample to really prove anything. But it is interesting.
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