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Does being drunk mean you aren’t responsible for a criminal act?

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Alcohol seriously affects people’s judgment and behavior. While alcohol consumption or drunkenness won’t necessarily change your personality, it can increase the likelihood of you following through with a bad idea or ignoring possible consequences.


Those under the influence of alcohol or certain other intoxicating drugs may not be able to enter a contract or agreement and cannot consent to certain activities. Some people accused of criminal offenses know that the behavior that led to their charges is a direct result of having too much to drink.


For those accused of assault or similar offenses while under the influence of alcohol, is their chemical impairments possibly grounds for a defense against pending criminal charges?


Voluntary intoxication does not end your personal responsibility

While you may not know exactly what will occur when you go out drinking for the night, you do know that alcohol will have an effect on your behavior. Choosing to drink to the point of intoxication means that you knowingly take the risk of engaging in bad behaviors while feeling disinhibited.


California does have laws that limit someone’s criminal responsibility in certain circumstances. However, voluntary intoxication or choosing to drink or consume illegal drugs is never an excuse for criminal activity while under the influence of those substances. Involuntary intoxication, such as when someone drugs a drink, is another matter altogether and will usually require some evidence if you want to use it as part of your defense strategy.


In limited circumstances, chemical impairments might affect your ability to have specific criminal intent. In most cases, however, impairment will have no bearing on the charges you face.


Other details could help you build a defense

Just because you can’t claim intoxication and avoid consequences does not mean your only option is to plead guilty. In an assault case, you may be able to demonstrate that the other party initiated the altercation and you simply wanted to defend yourself, for example.


Every criminal charge has its own unique considerations that affect how the defendant can best fight back. Looking at all of the evidence about the situation and your own memories from the moments leading up to the alleged offense can help you decide what defense strategies might help you overcome these pending charges.


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