June 25, 2018
When people are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their judgement can be compromised. What happens when a person commits criminal offenses while intoxicated? Intoxication used as a defense in a court of law depends on how and if the intoxicated person chose to consume alcohol or take illegal drugs.
Voluntary vs Involuntary Intoxication
The difference between voluntary and involuntary intoxication is very important when considering a criminal defense. Voluntary intoxication is when a person willingly drinks alcohol to excess or uses illegal drugs. In this case, a defendant chose to become intoxicated of their own free will and should know the inevitable result.
When a person is forced or tricked into using alcohol or drugs, they are victims of involuntary intoxication. Cases involving involuntary intoxication are different but can still be difficult to prove. To present involuntary intoxication as a defense, the accused must not have known what they were doing or failed to recognize what they were doing was wrong while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Involuntary intoxication is a challenging defense that requires clear and convincing evidence.
In some cases, voluntary intoxication may not excuse a defendant’s criminal behavior entirely, but it can reduce some culpability. If a drunk man attacks another man and causes bodily injuries, he is likely still liable for the injuries he caused, even if he was not capable of specific intent to cause physical harm.
Restrictions on the Involuntary Intoxication Defense
Some states have very clear guidelines as to when and how voluntary intoxication can be used as a defense. In states like Alabama, the intoxication must be so extreme that it amounts to insanity to be considered a defense. The defendant must be incapable of consciousness that they are committing a crime and incapable of discriminating between right and wrong.
When it comes to involuntary intoxication, some states allow it to be used to excuse criminal conduct if it prevents the defendant from understanding their own behavior, prevents them from deciphering right from wrong, renders them incapable of complying with the law, or somehow leaves them lacking the clarity of mind required for conviction. For example, if a pill was slipped into a drink that altered someone’s state of mind so drastically that they did not know what they were doing and they physically assaulted another person, that person may have a legitimate involuntary intoxication defense case.
A Haddon Heights Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse Handles Complex DUI Cases
Any case involving intoxication, whether voluntary or not, is inherently complex. An experienced Haddon Heights criminal defense lawyer can explain your options if your incident happened while you were drunk or using illegal drugs. The team at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse has been helping clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for more than 25 years. To schedule a free confidential consultation, call 856-546-6600 or complete the convenient online contact form today.