When is Intoxication a Solid Defense to a Criminal Charge?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jun 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

A local woman was arrested in Nashville for allegedly trashing an Airbnb during a bachelorette party, raising the issue of whether intoxication can be a valid or a strong defense to a criminal charge.

Woman Admits to Trashing Airbnb After Drinking

According to the initial news reports of the story, a local woman was with her friends in Nashville, Tennessee, for a bachelorette party. While there, she kicked in the windows of the Airbnb where she was staying because she could not get back into the house. Once inside, she broke several things inside the home.

When police arrived, she told them that she had had two bottles of wine on her own and that she “went psycho” when she could not get back inside.

She was arrested and charged with vandalism.

The Intoxication Defense in Philadelphia

Each state has its own nuances in criminal defense law. However, if the incident had happened in Philadelphia, then Pennsylvania's intoxication defense would apply to her case.

The intoxication defense is a legal argument against a criminal accusation. It argues that the defendant should not be held accountable for the crimes they are accused of committing because they were too inebriated to understand what they were doing.

The involuntary intoxication defense is the stronger argument. It claims that the defendant was inebriated through no fault of their own – often because they were drugged by someone else.

The voluntary intoxication defense, however, is more common and covers situations like this one where the defendant got drunk of their own accord.

When Voluntary Intoxication Can Be a Strong Defense

Voluntary intoxication can be a strong defense in some criminal cases, but not others.

It is particularly strong in criminal allegations that require someone to carry a specific intent to do something. For example, to be convicted of burglary in Pennsylvania, the prosecutor has to prove that you were in a house for the specific purpose of committing a crime while inside. This sets burglary apart from less severe offenses, like trespassing.

Voluntary intoxication can be an effective defense to criminal allegations that require a specific intent because the inebriation can prevent you from forming that intent. The argument is that you were acting in a fog, instead, and should not be punished as if you had intended to do the deed.

That is why raising the intoxication defense is a risky decision to make. You essentially admit to the alleged crime, and only argue that you should not be punished to the full extent of the law because you were too inebriated to know what you were doing.

Criminal Law Team Serves the Accused in Philadelphia

There are times when the intoxication defense is a valuable argument to make. Knowing when those times are, however, can take the input of a Criminal Law Team at LLF Law Firm.  Contact LLF Law Firm at (888)535-3686 if you have been accused of a crime in the Philadelphia area and want effective legal representation.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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