Intoxication as a defense is likely an all too common occurrence with alcoholism and drug abuse in society. Intoxication can be voluntary or involuntary and impacts the end results of cases depending on the circumstance. An individual can unwittingly ingest a chemical that causes an unforeseen result. Theses cases can be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt however, they continue to be brought forward in the era of ever-evolving medications and illegal narcotics.
Intoxication as a defense
If an individual introduces substances into the body and then commits a criminal offense, they have at the ability to use the intoxication defense. There are two specific intoxication defenses, voluntary or involuntary. Individuals attempt to obtain acquittal or reduction of sentence by using these defenses. Many times they are unsuccessful due to the large burden to prove they were incapable of knowing their condition could result in the crime occurrence. In order to determine the level of culpability one needs to weigh whether the intoxication was voluntary or involuntary and to what reasonable standard can they be held responsible. Voluntary Intoxication
Did the person know the substance would cause an adverse effect on their ability to make sound judgment calls? If the person being charged knowingly introduced substances into their body then they should know that it would likely have an intoxicating effect. (Garland, 2012) In a general intent crime situation this defense is not utilized, as the mens rea is not needed in this case due to the fact that the voluntary introduction of the substance satisfies the criteria. When there is a specific intent crime it can be proven that the mens rea was not present and the accused was incapable of meeting the criminal criteria. The difficulty in examining voluntary intoxication and what level someone should be held responsible is questioned by many. It should be appropriate to expect that a...
References: Welty, Jeff (2011, June). Voluntary Intoxication. North Carolina Criminal Law School of Government Blog. Retrieved from http://nccriminallaw.sog.unc.edu/?p=2538
Garland, N.M. (2012). Criminal Law for the Criminal Justice Professional (3rd ed.) New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill
Leibig, Christopher (2010, August). The Ambien defense: Criminal law unclear on how to treat the “Ambien Zombie” phenomenon. Arlington Law and Politics, Examiner.com. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/the-ambien-defense-criminal-law-unclear-on-how-to-treat-the-ambien-zombie-phenomenon
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