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Is Voluntary Intoxication A Valid Defense In A Criminal Case?

Updated on July 26, 2014

Responsibility For One's Actions

Can voluntary intoxication be a valid defense in a criminal case? The answer may seem obvious that voluntary intoxication is not a valid defense in a criminal case but you may wonder why. When a person voluntarily takes drugs or drinks alcohol, they are doing so of their own free will.

A Willful Act

For this reason, that person is responsible for their own actions even if they cannot remember the crime they have committed while being voluntarily intoxicated. Such as, someone cannot voluntarily ingest alcohol and then assault an officer.

That person cannot claim that their actions should be excused because they were intoxicated. Their intoxication is an act they committed willingly and, therefore, they will have to answer for their crime.


The Influence of Involuntary Intoxication

However, it is a different case when someone is under the influence of involuntary intoxication. Involuntary intoxication occurs when a person has been given a drug unknowingly.

If this person commits a crime then their actions may not be held against them. Normally the person would not have committed the crime if they were not intoxicated against their will.

Of course, there are many factors to consider in such a situation, like the drug that was used and the type of crime that was committed.


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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Great job. Voted up, useful, interesting, awesome.

      Keep up the fine work.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I would think that voluntary intoxication might go to extenuating circumstances but not as a defense.