General Defences in Criminal Law - Insanity
Intoxication can be either voluntary or involuntary. In general, where the intoxication os voluntary, a person should not be excused from their actions. This is because that person is responsible for being in the state of intoxication that impairs their judgement. Intoxication, however, can be used to show that the defendant could not form he necessary mens rea for the offence with which he has been charged. In that sense, it can provide a defence. The law distinguishes between voluntary and involuntary intoxication and the effect that has on different offences, the offences being divided into those of basic intent and those of specific intent.
Voluntary and involuntary intoxication
Voluntary intoxication is where the def takes the drink or drugs of his own free will. Involuntary intoxication is where a person does not know he was taking alcohol or an intoxicating drug. In such cases, there will only be a defence of the mens rea for the crime was not formed. Involuntary intoxication can arise where:
The defendant drinks were spiked.
The defendant takes drugs prescribed by his doctor in accordance with the instructions. The defendant takes a non-dangerous drug, although not prescribed to him, in a non reckless way. If involuntary intoxication is to be a defence, it must be shown that he defendant was, as a result of the intoxication, unable to form the mens rea of the offence. This is not always possible, as can be seen in the case of Kingston. In the case, Kingston and Penn were jointly indicted on a count of indecent assault on a youth aged 15. The def, who had peadophiliac homosexual tendencies (which he normally controlled) was blackmailed by former business associates, who arranged for Penn to record him in a compromising position with the young boy. Sedative drugs were found in Penn's flat when it was searched, and the prosecution claimed that Penn had laced the boys drink. Kingston’s defence, was...
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