Alcohol and drugs can easily affect the way we act, sometimes causing people to commit acts they would otherwise never commit but for being intoxicated. Pennsylvania law does take a criminal defendant’s state of intoxication into consideration, in certain situations, in determining whether the defendant should be found guilty of the crime charged. That said, intoxication is a complicated and controversial defense in criminal cases, and working with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney is often key to presenting the defense in a compelling manner.
If you are under investigation or charged with an allegedly criminal act in circumstances involving drug or alcohol intoxication, you should avoid speaking with police or any other person about the matter until you can present those facts to a criminal defense attorney in a confidential setting in which he or she can assess your situation and provide options, but below is a brief overview of how intoxication affects criminal charges in Pennsylvania.
Voluntary Intoxication in Pennsylvania Criminal Cases
When a person has become voluntarily intoxicated – meaning that person knowingly and voluntarily ingested drugs or alcohol – and committed a crime, Pennsylvania law provides some defense options to that defendant. In a murder/homicide trial, evidence of voluntary intoxication presented by the defendant can help to reduce the charges from a higher degree to a lower degree, which can make an enormous difference in the sentence handed down. Evidence of intoxication can also cast doubt on whether the person charged actually committed the crime charged.
Involuntary Intoxication in Pennsylvania Criminal Cases
Evidence of involuntary intoxication of a criminal defendant can be more useful, however, as Pennsylvania law recognizes that defendants who committed acts while involuntarily intoxicated should not necessarily face criminal penalties.
Involuntary intoxication can include situations where:
- The intoxication was caused by the fault of another (e.g. a person was forced to take drugs or was drugged)
- The defendant accidentally became intoxicated (e.g. swallowed narcotics believing they were something else)
- A defendant suffers from a condition making him unusually susceptible to otherwise legal intoxicants
- A medically prescribed drug resulted in unexpected reactions in the defendant
In such cases, a judge or jury might find that the involuntary intoxication made the defendant unaware of or unable to appreciate the criminal act that allegedly occurred, and thus might excuse liability or cast doubt on whether a criminal act occurred. Again, speak to an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney about your specific situation.
Speak with a PA Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with or are under investigation for any crime in Pennsylvania, drug-related or otherwise, The Martin Law Firm, P.C., in Montgomery County, may be able to help. Contact us today for a free consultation with a PA criminal defense attorney today to discuss your circumstances.