Some crimes require criminal intent. In the courts, people refer to that intention to break the law as mens rea. For certain offenses, like violent crimes, prosecutors may have to establish mens rea to secure a conviction.
Someone’s criminal intent could be the difference between certain kinds of homicide offenses, for example. To invoke the most serious charges and secure the most severe penalties, the prosecutor will need to show that the person accused intended to break the law or cause harm.
If you find yourself accused of a criminal offense that occurred while you were under the influence of alcohol, you may believe that you did not act as you normally would because you were not sober enough to make rational decisions. Does your chemical impairment provide an opportunity for a defense strategy?
Florida criminal courts will not hear voluntary intoxication defenses
You can never predict exactly how drugs or alcohol will affect you, even if you have used those substances previously. Factors ranging from your physical health to the day you had at work could affect your behavior and response to impairment.
However, you understand the possible consequences of drinking or doing drugs before you engage in that activity. Therefore, you assume the risk of the inappropriate and perhaps illegal behavior that you might be engaged in after drinking or using drugs. Criminal courts have repeatedly found that voluntary intoxication does not prevent someone from having criminal intent.
In fact, Florida state law explicitly prohibits people from defending themselves by claiming that drugs or alcohol affected their behavior or prevented them from having criminal intent. Only in the rare situation where someone was involuntarily intoxicated because someone else drugged them would they potentially have a defense against charges based on their impairment.
Explore all your defense options
While you can’t blame a physical altercation on having too much to drink, there could be numerous other defense strategies available to you, including claims of self-defense or challenges against the evidence that the state has.
Your best chance of defending yourself successfully comes from being open to all possible defense strategies. Learning more about the laws that govern criminal court proceedings in Florida can help you put together a viable strategy to defend yourself against pending charges.