When someone has too much to drink, they may wake up the next morning with a fierce sense of regret and a powerful hangover. Occasionally, the consequences of intoxication will include an arrest and criminal charges. People might make poor decisions after having too much to drink which could include shoplifting from a local store or getting into a fight at a bar.
Whether you face allegations of a property crime or an assault, you may wonder if your alcohol intoxication could play a role in your criminal defense. After all, people can claim they didn’t give consent to a contract if they were under the influence at the time that they signed. Someone who is drunk lacks the legal capacity to enter into a binding agreement. Shouldn’t that mean you also lack the capacity to have criminal intent?
You accept the risks when you decide to drink
Alcohol affects different people in unique ways, but there are certain broad statements that you can make about what alcohol does to a person. Alcohol is a disinhibitor that makes people more likely to act on impulse. It can heighten emotions and strips someone of the logical practices they employ to manage their intense responses to others.
Even if you had an unusual reaction to drinking on the night of your arrest, that will not give you justification for criminal actions. The Virginia courts have heard defenses based on the idea that intoxication is like a form of insanity that prevents someone from having criminal intent. The courts have repeatedly found that voluntarily consuming alcohol or drugs is not an affirmative defense.
Intoxication does not protect them from the criminal consequences of the choices they make while drinking. Those who were unaware of their intoxication, such as those not informed that their beverage had alcohol or drugged by another patron at a bar, are the only ones who may have legal grounds for a defense based on their chemical impairment. Anyone who drinks intentionally runs the risk of an arrest for anything they do after drinking.
There are other defense options
Just because you can’t blame it on the alcohol does not mean your only option is to plead guilty to those pending charges. There are likely numerous defense strategies you could employ for the charges against you. From challenging the evidence against you to providing a solid alibi, there are numerous ways for a criminal defendant to create the reasonable doubt necessary to avoid a conviction.
Understanding the limitations on your defense strategy will help you employ the right tools when fighting back against upcoming criminal charges in Virginia.