Defences: Intoxication

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  • Intoxication
    • Limited effect on liability, not a true excuse, raises evidence that D did not form the mens rea for the offence
      • Irrelevant in crimes of strict liability, recklessness or negligence
        • Strict liability - does not need mens rea so is irrelevant
          • Negligence - will only make it worse for D
        • Blakey v Sutton: drink driving/D's drink spiked
          • Yes in automatism (King) - even in strict liability
    • 1. Was intoxication voluntary or involuntary?
      • 2. Is offence one of SPECIFIC or BASIC intent?
        • Specific intent = murder + s.18 OAPA (GBH with intent)
          • Basic intent = assault, malicious wounding (s.47) ****, sexual assault (Burns (1973); Heard [2007]), manslaughter (Lipman [1970]), criminal damage
            • Anyone committing a crime of basic intent whilst intoxicated relieves prosecution of proving recklessness
              • Exception: accidents where V is harmed by D and which would not have occurred if D was sober - Brady [2006]
                • Another basic intent crime: s.3(1)(a) Sexual Offences Act 2003 where a person intentionally touches another person and the touching is sexual (decided in Heard it was basic intent)
      • Voluntary intoxication
        • Negates the mens rea for specific intent crimes (ONLY - cannot negate for crimes which can be committed by recklessness)
          • Includes where D is an addict and unable to resist OR if D misjudged the amount of alcohol consuming OR its intoxicating effect (R v Allen [1988])
          • Includes cases where D did not take medical advice or overdosed on prescribed drug (cf. Quick
          • 2. Majewski [1977] HL D on drink and drugs attacked police officer in pub, q. was if he had formed intention to commit GBH
            • Conviction upheld - voluntary intoxication only negates mens rea of specific intent crimes
              • Not relevant for crimes of mens rea or basic intent; assault - basic intent (can be committed recklessly)
                • 'self-induced intoxication is no defence to a crime in which recklessness in enough to constitute the mens rea
                  • R v Garlick [1981] - issue for jury is not whether D had capacity to form intention but whether he had intention
                    • Follows from Majewski that s 18 OAP, murder, attempt, burglary, theft and robbery - all specific intent crimes
                      • Theft: Ruse v Read [1949]; Bennett [1995]
                        • s.18 OAPA: Maekin (1836); Pordage [1975]
          • 1. DPP v Beard [1920] D, drunk, put hand over V's mouth to effect ****. She died of asphyxiation
            • Conviction quashed - murder is crime of specific intent to kill/GBH, prosecution could only prove ****
        • Murder: Beard'
          • Burglary: Durante
            • Theft: Ruse v Read [1949]; Bennett [1995]
              • s.18 OAPA: Maekin (1836); Pordage [1975]
      • Involuntary
        • If coerced
          • If taken under doctor's prescription as long as medical regime adhered to
            • If D mistakes what he is consuming (Ross v HM Advocate (1991); People v Carlo (1974))
              • In drugs taken for medicinal purposes
                • Sometimes, if D did not foresee the intoxicating effect (Hardie [1984])
                • If secretly administered to D without his knowledge
                  • Kingston (HL) unsure if mistake needs to be from D or by spiking/from drinking from wrong glass
                    • Technically all are operative as long as D deprived of fair opportunity to conform (Eatch [1980]/State v Brown [1888])
                    • If mens rea is present then D is guilty even though he would not have committed the offence if sober (jury's hands)
              • Intoxicant NOT taken by medical supervision but which is not known to provoke erratic or unpredicted behaviour
                • Hardie - valium/criminal damage
    • Covers intoxication by drink, drugs and other substances
    • Negates mens rea


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