Involuntary Intoxication: Is it a Defense?Involuntary Intoxication vs. Voluntary Intoxication: It Can Make All the Difference

Over the course of your life, you may be invited to multiple social events and gatherings, such as those at fraternities or even family events. Regardless of whether you drink or not, you may end up being forced or tricked. When someone is tricked into consuming drugs or alcohol or forced, involuntary intoxication is taking place. Some examples include a woman who has a date rape drug placed in her drink, or when somebody takes a legal prescription medication and has an allergic reaction.

There are some occasions in which involuntary intoxication appears as a defense to a crime. One occasion is where a criminal defendant commits a crime, but the intoxication prevents them from forming intent. For instance, the defendant may not be in the right state of mind when they commit the actions and would be deemed incapable.

If somebody is involuntarily drugged and assaults someone, then they could argue that the intoxication prevented them from forming the intent. It can also be used in a case where a crime takes place and the defendant establishes that the involuntary intoxication acted similarly to an insanity defense. This would mean that the drugs or alcohol prevented the defendant from understanding the difference between right or wrong.

On the other hand, voluntary intoxication is hard to establish a defense for and is never a defense to a general intent crime. However, you may have a defense if alcohol or drugs prevented you from forming the criminal intent necessary to commit the crime. There is a burden of proof to prove that you lacked the necessary intent for your decisions.

More on Mental Status Defenses

Involuntary intoxication, unlike voluntary intoxication, may be a complete defense to a wide variety of charges. This means that criminal conduct may not apply if you were intoxicated against your will. You have to meet certain requirements, however, which include:

  • The drug or alcohol prevented the defendant from understanding what he or she was doing.
  • It caused the defendant to be unable to differentiate between right and wrong.
  • It made the defendant incapable of complying with the law.
  • It otherwise left the defendant lacking the culpable state of mind required for a conviction.

The court systems believes that people must be accountable for their own actions. This applies even if people were or were not operating with their faculties. However, courts will occasionally allow defendants to prevent evidence of intoxication in order to disprove a mental state required in an alleged offense.

Partial Defenses

Now we know that, sometimes, voluntary intoxication may be a potential defense in certain cases and crimes. However, it may reduce the defendant’s culpability (responsibility for a fault), rather than let them completely off the hook for the crime committed. Liability will still probably come into play for the general intent crime, regardless of the status of intoxication.

If you have fallen victim to an involuntary intoxication incident, you may have a case. It may be difficult to prove your case under any circumstances, so it is in your best interest to seek the experience of an attorney. Call The Blair Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more information on your case. We will help you fight for the compensation you deserve!