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intoxication as a defence

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Introduction

Evaluate the effectiveness of intoxication as a defence. Defendants can be intoxicated by the consumption of alcohol and/or the use of drugs. Intoxication can only be used as a defence when the defendant can show that he or she was incapable of forming the mens rea of the offence that he or she is charged with. If the defendant was still able to form the necessary mens rea even whilst intoxicated, the defence would not apply. Even when the defendant proves that they did not possess mens rea, they can still be found liable for certain crimes. A distinction between specific intent and basic intent crimes has been made by courts. A specific intent crime is where the mens rea is the only intention. Examples include murder, theft, burglary and robbery. Voluntary and involuntary intoxication both provide a defence to specific intent crimes. In basic intent crimes, the mens rea can include recklessness. ...read more.

Middle

If the defendant is involuntary intoxicated, as long as they did not form the necessary mens rea, a defence will be available for both specific and basic intent crimes. However, if the defendant was still able to form mens rea despite being intoxicated against their own will, a defence will not be available. In the case of Kingston (1995) the defendant, a known paedophile, was blackmailed by a former business associate who invited him to his flat. On arrival, his drink was spiked and was then taken to a room where a 15 year old boy was asleep where he was told to abuse him, the defendant then proceeded to abuse the boy whilst the associate documented the event through recordings and photographs. The defendant was convicted of indecent assault after admitting he had intended to assault the boy. Even though he was intoxicated without his consent and knowledge, he was still guilty as he had formed the necessary mens rea. ...read more.

Conclusion

is not consistently applied. Some solutions to this problem include abandoning the distinction altogether, leaving it to the jury so each case is individual and suggesting that all defendants should not be held criminally liable as they were unable to form the mens rea in the first place. Another issue is inconsistency in its effect. Some specific intent crimes do not have a corresponding basic intent crime therefore intoxication would operate as a complete defence, but for the specific intent crimes that do have a corresponding basic intent crime, the defendant would be convicted. To improve the effectiveness of the defence of intoxication several reforms are suggested. The first is to ensure that all specific intent crimes have a corresponding basic intent crime which would help to promote consistency. Another suggestion is to replace the current law with a new offence of 'dangerous intoxication'. Juries could then find the defendant guilty of dangerous intoxication rather instead of being guilty for the offence committed. The final suggestion is to introduce intoxication as a complete defence as the defendants are incapable of forming necessary mens rea, thus resulting into acquittals. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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