Involuntary Intoxication

Involuntary Intoxication

What is Involuntary Intoxication?

Involuntary intoxication is a criminal defense under certain circumstances. In order to use the involuntary intoxication defense the intoxication must not be voluntary and the intoxication must negate the intent required for the criminal offense you are being charged with. Voluntary intoxication only works as a defense to negate intent where there is specific intent is required.

In sum, voluntary and involuntary intoxication defenses are used to show that the person did not have the intent to commit the offense; where voluntary intoxication defense is applicable only for specifically enumerated specific intent crimes, where involuntary intoxication is more applicable and is allowed in both specific intent crimes and general intent crimes.

How Involuntary Intoxication works:

Involuntary intoxication defense is a defense raised at trial by the Defense. During trial the state has the burden of proving that you intended your actions. Without intent there is no crime. Therefore, the Defense introduces evidence at trial that would show you had no intent to become intoxicated and that your behavior was a direct result of the involuntary intoxication.

The involuntary intoxication defense is given as part of jury instructions where the Defense (or State) produces sufficient evidence that (1) the Defendant unknowingly ingested a substance which caused him to become impaired, and (2) did some act without the knowledge that he was or would become impaired.  See Carter v. State, 710 So.2d 110 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998).

Case Study on Involuntary Intoxication:

Carter v. State: In Carter, the 4th DCA looked at involuntary intoxication as a defense to Driving Under the Influence (DUI). In Carter, the Defendant was arrested for DUI. The Defendant testified at trial that he only had one beer and some medicine from his friend which she had told him was Ibuprofen. The friend testified that she kept ibuprofen and her Amitriptlyline (use for Depression) in the same container. She testified that she had accidentally given her friend Amitriptyline instead of the Ibuprofen. There was testimony from a medical professional that the Defendant’s behavior was consistent with alcohol, but also consistent with intoxication due to four Amitriptyline tablets that Defendant may have taken.

The 4th DCA stated that the Involuntary Intoxication Defense was applicable given the facts and that it should have been given during the jury instructions. The Court remanded for a new trial.