Voluntary intoxication is not going to hold up as a defense. Involuntary intoxication may in some cases, such as if a person spikes your drink when you’re only 19 years old and you unknowingly partake in underage drinking. If you chose to get drunk and then committed a crime, though, you cannot use the fact that you were drunk to stay out of trouble.
For example, one study looked at violent crimes. In a full 40 percent of cases, it found that those who got arrested, convicted and incarcerated had been drunk when they committed those crimes. In many cases, they had incredibly high blood alcohol content (BAC) levels that were over three times higher than 0.08, which is the legal limit to drive a car in New York.
That’s a high enough level that you may never remember committing the crime. While that could factor into your case, do not assume you can use it as a defense. The amount of people behind bars proves it will not hold up.
Crimes committed while under the influence
Alcohol does not just lead to violent crimes. Here are a few of the most common offenses:
- Aggravated assault: Those accused of aggravated assault were drunk in roughly 27 percent of cases. For instance, a simple disagreement at a bar could spiral out of control and lead to a dangerous brawl.
- Robbery: People’s inhibitions drop when they get drunk, so they may be more likely to rob someone, even if they would never do so sober. Studies uncovered alcohol use in about 15 percent of robbery cases. Alcohol use may also make it more likely that you will get caught, as you may think you’re being careful and going unnoticed when it’s actually very clear what you’re doing.
- Domestic violence: This can include physical violence, but not always. It can also include intimidation, threats, emotional abuse and much more. Couples who argue often when sober may find that alcohol makes it easier to lose their temper and take things too far.
- Child abuse: For the same reasons listed for domestic violence, child abuse has also been linked to alcohol in some cases.
- Disturbing the peace: People have a right to peace and quiet, and bar fights or loud parties may infringe upon that right. This is especially problematic late at night or in the early morning, when a lot of drinking takes place.
- Property crimes: Small things like vandalism may seem funny or exhilarating after drinking, but they are still illegal. When caught, criminal charges may follow.
This does not even touch on drunk driving, the most common alcohol-related offense.
Those who stand accused of any criminal acts need to know all of their rights and legal options, especially when alcohol use makes their own recollection of events less than reliable.