When a person is impaired or intoxicated, it is likely that they may make some pretty bad decisions due to lowered inhibitions. Being under the influence can result in a diminished mental capacity that could impact the likelihood that a person intentionally committed a crime. Being intoxicated when a crime is committed is not a solid enough defense by itself. However, in situations where a person is killed without forethought or premeditation, manslaughter may be an appropriate charge. For example, if a drunk driver were to hit and kill another person, the result may be manslaughter, which is murder charge of a lesser degree. Although a manslaughter charge is serious, the repercussions are far less than a first-degree murder charge. Meaning, a first-degree murder charge could result in death penalty whereas manslaughter charge does not. There are two types of manslaughter:
- Voluntary: is when a person claims that they were justified in the crime that they committed. For example, when a person claims self defense against their attacker.
- Involuntary: is when a person is killed unintentionally due to the criminal negligence of another. For example, if a person is driving while intoxicated and hits a person crossing the street.
The prosecution must be able to prove that a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that they must be able to convince the jury that a person is guilty based on the case that they present. In most states, an attorney may use the involuntary intoxication defense if you committed a crime when you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol involuntarily. The drawback is that it can be challenging to prove that someone was under the influence against his or her own accord. Examples include:
- The unknowing consumption of drugs or alcohol
- Being forced to take drugs or alcohol
Voluntary intoxication is when someone knowingly and intentionally consumes drugs and/or alcohol. This type of defense alone is usually not successful in discharging criminal liability.
If you have committed a crime and are in need of legal representation, contact a criminal attorney today such as the Criminal Offenses Attorney MD locals turn to. They may be able to help in an outcome that results in a lesser sentence. Accessing their knowledge will be vital when learning specific details as the laws around intoxication and criminal defense can vary depending on the state you live.
Thanks to authors at The Law Offices of Frederick J. Brynn PLC for their insight into Criminal Law.