Arlington, VA asked in Criminal Law for Maryland

Q: Can voluntary intoxication be used as a defense in court?

I was drunk to the point were I have no memory of the said events. I was drinking excessively throughout the day. I have witnesses to prove my lack of mental capacity. This is my first isolated major offenses of theft between 500 and 1500 dollars. Second degree assault were I unintentionally pushed a police officer. And a final charge of resisting arrest. After being released i learned that i was accompanied by a aquantance that was sober and witnessed me unitentionally taking the item, walking away and starting to run. The accompanying individual told me to run according to his account. The property stolen was returned undamaged. The officer I pushed received no injury. I was intoxicated at a carnival, and throughout the day caused no other offense while intoxicated.

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2 Lawyer Answers

Eric Todd Kirk

  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: You need to consult with an attorney to discuss the if you've been charged with a crime involving specific intent, and the applcability of that offense to that crime.

Mark Oakley

  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: The problem with the intoxication defense to prove lack of criminal intent, is that intoxication is something you did voluntarily by knowingly consuming alcohol. In Maryland, voluntary intoxication is not a defense to "general intent" crimes, which would include 2d degree assault and resisting arrest. However, it can be a defense to theft, which is a "specific intent" crime. It is very difficult to generate enough evidence to allow the defense and jury instruction at trial. It's going to be your word that you didn't know what you were doing versus the police and others who observed you doing what appeared to be things you knew you were doing. The mere fact that you had an alcohol-induced "blackout" event in your memory, is not the same thing as being so intoxicated you did not know at the time what you were doing. Most cases can be plea bargained, and that could include having the theft charge dropped (the only offense where your defense might be raised), and pleading out to one of the other charges. Or maybe a lawyer could negotiate a diversion program like dismissal in exchange for alcohol classes or community service. Hire a lawyer, and don't post any more facts on a public forum like this.

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