A first degree murder conviction usually requires proof of a specific intent to kill, premeditation, and deliberation. Intoxication may prevent a person from being able to form that level of intent.
Fighting When You Are Drunk
If so, the person charged could raise her intoxication as a defense to first degree murder. For example, suppose a woman learns that her partner is having an affair and goes to a bar to drown her sorrows. After several drinks, she decides to confront the lovers and tracks him and his paramour down in a hotel room. Upon catching them together red-handed, and in a drunken rage, she pulls her gun out of her bag and shoots and kills her partner.
He was acting drunk but swore he was sober. Turns out his stomach was brewing its own beer.
On trial for first degree murder, the woman might argue that she was too drunk to form the premeditated intent required for first-degree murder, acting instead upon a drunken impulse when she saw the two together. This may help her avoid a first degree murder charge. However, if she had purchased the gun immediately upon learning of the affair and before going to the bar, her defense would likely fail. This is because her conduct suggested that she might have formed the intent to kill before becoming intoxicated.
How the law treats an intoxicated defendant very much depends on where the person is charged. And, even if the intoxication defense succeeds in convincing a judge or jury that the defendant could not form the intent to be convicted of a specific intent crime, the defendant may still be convicted of a lesser offense that has only a general intent requirement. The intoxication defense has a checkered history and its success now depends largely on where the defendant is being tried.
SOBER THOUGHTS OF AN INTOXICATED MAN By ANDREW REINDL
Some states outright prohibit defendants from raising intoxication as a defense to certain crimes. In those that will consider it, courts are a bit more receptive to the defense than in the past. English common law, upon which the legal structure of the U. Involuntary intoxication, on the other hand, has historically been viewed as a defense to most crimes. But what constitutes involuntary intoxication is open to dispute. Some courts have held that a person is voluntarily intoxicated when he willingly takes a first drink and then several more, after becoming so intoxicated that he was not in total control of his conduct.
Other courts have held that an alcoholic may not be able to control his drinking and so could be considered to be involuntarily intoxicated by virtue of the compulsion of his disease. As a result, the definition and application of involuntary intoxication differs from state to state. However, people who have been given an intoxicating substance without their knowledge or consent, becoming intoxicated as a result, may raise the defense of intoxication to any crime they committed while intoxicated.
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The Model Penal Code is not itself a set of laws, but a proposed voluntary model for states to use to create a more consistent and standardized set of criminal laws across all states. Over two-thirds of the states have used the model to revise their criminal codes. Only a few states have adopted the model code in its entirety. At trial, the man argued that he was so intoxicated he could not have formed the intent to harm the animal. But the judge found that the man had a high tolerance for alcohol. Given this factor, the judge rejected the intoxication defense,ruling that the man was likely less intoxicated than he claimed to be when he shot the dog.
Some states have completely done away with the intoxication defense, but allow a defendant to offer evidence that, due to intoxication or mental illness, he suffered a diminished capacity to form the mental intent to commit a particular crime. The Model Penal Code recommends a standard for diminished capacity. That standard allows a criminal defendant to show that he lacked substantial capacity to:.
This is the same test that would be used to assess lack of capacity based on mental illness. Federal law is slightly different. Under a statute passed by Congress in , a criminal defendant may avoid conviction if he proves that, when the crime occurred, he was unable to appreciate:.
While such words seem to suggest a specific intent, courts have at times ruled that the level of intent described by such terms may depend upon the type of crime. Felony murder is a category of first degree murder that does not require premeditation or even intent to kill. An example is an armed bank robbery where the robber accidentally kills a bank customer. Felony murder requiresonlythat the defendant intended to commit the underlying felony for example, armed robbery in order to be convicted of a killing that occurred in the commission of that felony.
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However, if the defendant was intoxicated during the commission of the underlying felony and the underlying felony required proof of specific intent, the defendant may argue that his intoxication prevented him from forming the required intent. In the armed robbery example, if the person charged with felony murder was so intoxicated that he could not form the intent to commit robbery, he may avoid conviction of felony murder.
I am not this year and I am not your fault. I am muscles building cells, a little every day, because they broke that day, but bones are stronger once they heal and I am smiling to the bus driver and replacing my groceries once a week and I am not sitting for hours in the shower anymore. I am the way a life unfolds and bloom and seasons come and go and I am the way the spring always finds a way to turn even the coldest winter into a field of green and flowers and new life.
I am not your fault. And happy. Try smiling a little more.
True Feelings or Alcohol Talking?
As charming as ever. I thought I was doing a pretty good job. I got my arm around the prettiest escort on this block—how could I not be lusting over you? This is me, lusting. Another passerby glances at me. I laughed until I was gasping for breath, tears streaming down my face. My feet itched and my skin crawled. I needed to move, to do something.
I tried standing up, wanting to spin and dance, but the room tilted violently and I fell, still shrieking with laughter. Somebody caught me, scooping me off my feet and into their arms. I smelled frost and winter, and heard an exasperated sigh from somewhere above my head. I sighed and settled into his arms.
I was suddenly too sleepy and light-headed to care. I am not collarbones or drunken letters never sent.
You make me want to do shocking things. Your necktie is never crooked, and your shoes are always shiny. And your shirts are so starchy. Sometimes when I look at you, I want to tear off all your buttons. Or set your trousers on fire.
It's all fucking crap. We're all human beings, we're all mammals, we're all rocks, plants, rivers. Fucking borders are just such a pain in the fucking arse. Then you sped off into the night air.
Jury Still Out on Gibson's Rant
We pursued you on foot. It is a mammoth desert, Magnus. Ordinary deserts are quite large. Mammoth deserts are so called because they are larger than ordinary deserts. With pinpoint accuracy.
You are a true friend. No harm done. Let's say no more about it. Could you possibly fetch me - " "Oh, we couldn't stop you," Catarina interrupted. You kept saying that you wanted to go to Moquegua. We actually had a very pleasant meal, even though you were still very drunk.
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It broke. It would never have worked between me and the plate anyway. I'm sure the food did me good, Catarina, and you were very good to feed me and put me to bed - " Catarina shook her head. Honestly, we thought it best to leave you sleeping on the ground. We thought you would remain there for some time, but we took our eyes off you for one minute, and then you scuttled off. Ragnor claims he saw you making for the carpet, crawling like a huge demented crab. Why aren't you at the feast?