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Criminal | Defences

Intoxication: Criteria

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  • does not provide defence in itself / relevant determining if D has required mens rea
  • if D lacks sufficient mens rea / due to intoxication / may be found not guilty
  • law distinguishes / between voluntary & involuntary intoxication / basic & specific intent offences

Voluntary Intoxication:

  • occurs when D chooses of own free will to become intoxicated / with alcohol, illegal drugs or any intoxicants
  • generally D not excused from consequences of actions / if voluntarily intoxicated / their responsible for being in state
  • D stabbed wife to death / bought bottle of whiskey with knife/ drunk most of the bottle before killing / found D has necessary mens rea / convicted murder (Gallagher)
  • if proved intoxication prevented D from having necessary mens rea / charge cannot be proved

Involuntary Intoxication:

  • if D not know he was taking intoxicating substance / drink spiked / or prescribed drug has unexpected effect
  • must be proved intoxication prevented D forming required mens rea / causing lack of inhibition not sufficient (Kingston)
  • unanticipated strength of intoxicant / not make intoxication involuntary / D committed sexual offences after drinking homemade wine / guilty (Allen)
  • non dangerous drugs / may lead to involuntary intoxication / distinction between dangerous drugs ..where it is common knowledge.. [the taker] may become aggressive or do dangerous or unpredictable things ... and non dangerous drugs, such as valium.. (Hardie)
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Specific Intent:

  • general principle / intoxication can be defence to specific intent crimes / not basic intent (Majewski)
  • Ds threw petrol over V & set fire to him / V died / Ds found too drunk to form necessary specific intent needed / insufficient mens rea for murder / guilty of basic intent offence of involuntary manslaughter (Sheehan & Moore)
  • specific intent crimes / summarised as offences requiring specific mens rea / murder & GBH S18

Basic Intent:

  • difficulty arises in defining offences / seems basic intent refers to general criminal intent / not any ulterior intent D wants to achieve from actus reus
  • voluntary intoxication / no defence to basic intent crime / choice to become intoxicated is reckless / D knows risk he will behave badly or criminally when intoxicated (Majewski)
  • basic intent crimes / summarised as offences requiring mens rea of recklessness / assault, battery, ABH, GBH S20 & involuntary manslaughter
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