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Voluntary Intoxication as a Defense

A Clearwater man was recently arrested after vandalizing a home by destroying the homeowners’ mailbox. When officers responded to a report of a man destroying property, officers discovered the alleged perpetrator in the yard shirtless and dirty. When officers inquired of the man as to why he was engaging in the destructive behavior, the man replied that he had simply been listening to music and masturbating at home and that, as a result, he felt as if he needed to destroy things. Needless to say, the man’s explanation is not likely to absolve him of criminal liability for these acts. Just as feeling a “need” to commit a crime is not a defense, neither is voluntary intoxication.

Voluntary Intoxication is Not a Defense, Either

“Voluntary intoxication” refers to a defendant who voluntarily consumes alcohol and/or other intoxicating or impairing substances. Unlike some states, voluntary intoxication is typically not a defense to criminal charges. In those states that do recognize voluntary intoxication as a defense, a defendant can defend him- or herself against criminal charges if the defendant was not able to form the requisite intent as a result of being intoxicated. For example, a theft is committed when the defendant takes property belonging to another with the intention of depriving the owner of the possession or use of the property. However, in those states where voluntary intoxication is recognized as a defense, a defendant who believes that the stolen property is actually his because of the effects of alcohol or drugs may successfully defend him- or herself by claiming the defense.

When You are Prescribed Intoxicating Substances or Become Involuntarily Intoxicated

The only exception in Florida to the general rule prohibiting the defense of voluntary intoxication is where the defendant is under the influence of a substance he or she was lawfully prescribed. Suppose a defendant is charged with theft for taking another person’s car. The defendant was prescribed a medication to help control a health condition and such medication causes confusion and other side effects. This defendant would be able to assert the defense of voluntary intoxication.

In addition, a defense of involuntary intoxication can be asserted to defend against criminal charges – even driving under the influence. “Involuntary intoxication” occurs when a person unknowingly and/or unwittingly consumes a substance that results in the person becoming intoxicated or impaired. A classic example is a person who consumes punch at a party who is unaware that someone has “spiked” the punch with alcohol and/or drugs. If such a person becomes intoxicated and commits a crime, the person could assert an involuntary intoxication defense.

When to Contact an Attorney for Help

Defendants wanting to assert defenses bear the burden of proving that the facts supporting the defense exist. Increase the likelihood of your defense being successful by having attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner on your side. He will locate and present the evidence and testimony you need in order for your defense to have the most persuasive impact possible. Discuss your case with him today by calling (305) 670-9919 or contacting his office online.

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