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Can you use intoxication as a defense against criminal charges?

On Behalf of | Dec 12, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Alcohol has a known correlation with criminal charges. People go to jail every day for getting behind the wheel of a car after having too much to drink. The truth is that you don’t need to drink and drive for alcohol to lead to allegations against you. 

Getting drunk at a party might lead to claims of misconduct or allegations that you assaulted someone because you got into a drunken fight. For example, maybe you are usually a very calm and reserved person, but having too much to drink can sometimes bring out the worst in you. 

Does alcohol impairment give you a possible defense against pending criminal charges in California?

California does not allow voluntary intoxication defenses

It almost seems logical to think that drunkenness is a kind of legal defense. After all, people under the influence of mind-altering substances can not legally enter a contract or consent to sexual activity. If you lack mental capacity, then you could argue that you did not have criminal intent. 

However, California state law closes this theoretical legal loophole. There is a specific state code that prohibits dependents from using voluntary intoxication as a defense against criminal charges. When you choose to consume a mind-altering substance, you accept the risks that it may change your behavior or decision-making. 

Only in scenarios where someone experiences chemical impairment without their consent, such as when someone drugs a drink, does intoxication provide grounds for a defense. If you can prove involuntary intoxication, that could help you with your charges. Understanding the rules that affect your criminal defense options can help you better protect yourself in court.