It’s pretty common knowledge that people tend to make mistakes when they are intoxicated, but is being drunk a defense against criminal charges?
America’s legal system holds people responsible for their actions, even if they weren’t completely aware of what they were doing; for example, if they were drunk. However, there are some cases when intoxication has worked as a defense against certain criminal charges.
General vs. Specific Intent
Many states are of the opinion that being drunk can prevent a person from forming any specific intent to commit a crime. For example, if you were drunk and saw a cell phone sitting on a table and took it because you thought it was yours, you may be able to prove that you had no specific intent to permanently deprive the phone’s owner.
However, most crimes do not require specific intent. Most crimes only require general intent, for which being drunk will likely not be an acceptable defense. For example, if you were drunk, got angry, and attacked someone, voluntary intoxication will probably not be a defense against assault.
Even in circumstances where being drunk works as a defense, it will probably result in partial defense. That means that you could be found to be less responsible, rather than off the hook entirely.
Consult a Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested after allegedly committing a crime while drunk, you should consult a reputable defense attorney immediately. A defense lawyer can help you to find the best defense against criminal charges. Since laws vary from state to state, talk to a local lawyer about the best way to proceed.