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Is intoxication a defense to other criminal charges?

On Behalf of The Foley Law Firm | July 5, 2021

You get arrested and find yourself facing criminal charges. The trouble is that you’re not even sure what happened, as you were heavily intoxicated at the time. You only remember bits and pieces of the event.

Can you use this as a defense? Can you claim that you were intoxicated and unaware of what you were doing, so you shouldn’t face charges?

Was your intoxication voluntary or involuntary?

In rare situations, you can use intoxication as a defense, but generally just if your condition is involuntary. You never intended to get drunk but someone spiked your drink, for instance, or slipped you a pill. As a result, you weren’t in control of your own actions. You may have committed the crime in question, but you feel that the fault lies with the person who, against your will, decided to get you so drunk that you would commit that crime in the first place.

If you voluntarily got intoxicated, then you usually cannot claim it as a defense -- drunk driving, of course, is still very much illegal, even if you were blackout drunk and don’t remember getting in the car.

The only time when voluntary intoxication may factor in is if there needs to be an element of intent to the case. You could wind up with lesser charges if you can show that you were intoxicated and had no intent to commit the crime, even if you still did end up committing it in your inebriated state. For example, maybe you broke into someone’s home because you thought it was yours.

Exploring your legal defense options

When you’re facing criminal charges in a complicated situation like this, it is imperative that you know exactly what defense options you have. An experienced defense attorney can help you understand more about the specifics of your situation.

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