involuntary intoxication (defense) | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Criminal Law

Involuntary Intoxication is a  criminal defense based on the logic that the defendant should not be held liable because he or she acted criminally due to intoxication that the defendant did not cause.

Involuntary intoxication is a criminal defense that can be used by a defendant who has committed a crime while under the influence of a substance that was consumed involuntarily. In other words, it is a defense that can be used when a person has been forced or tricked into consuming an intoxicating substance without their knowledge or consent.

This defense is often used in cases where the defendant was unknowingly drugged by another person or was given medication that had unexpected side effects. The defendant must be able to prove that they were not aware of the substance that caused their intoxication and that they did not voluntarily consume it.

Under the Model Penal Code, which is used by many states to guide their criminal laws, involuntary intoxication is a complete defense to a criminal charge if it prevents the defendant from forming the required criminal intent. For example, if a person is drugged and then commits a crime without realizing what they are doing, they may be able to use the defense of involuntary intoxication.

However, the defense of involuntary intoxication is not available in all cases. In some instances, the defendant may have contributed to their own intoxication or may have voluntarily consumed the substance that caused their impairment. In these cases, the defense may not be successful.

The defense of involuntary intoxication can be challenging to prove, as it often requires medical evidence and testimony from experts. Additionally, the defendant may be required to show that they did not contribute to their own intoxication, which can be difficult to do.

In order to successfully use the defense of involuntary intoxication, the defendant must show that they were not aware of the substance that caused their intoxication, that they did not voluntarily consume the substance, and that their intoxication prevented them from forming the necessary criminal intent. If the defense is successful, the defendant may be found not guilty of the criminal charges.

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Last Modified: 04/09/2023


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