Fighting criminal charges of any type or severity in Connecticut is a difficult process. The outcome of your criminal case could impact your finances, freedom, and future. Therefore, it is important a Bridgeport CT criminal lawyer utilizes the right defense for your circumstances and situation. Asserting an appropriate defense is the best way to prohibit negative ramifications from impacting your personal and professional life.
Deciding on the best defense for your Connecticut criminal case is extremely fact specific. What would be a winning argument in some circumstances isn’t applicable to others. In certain cases, even intoxication can be a successful argument against conviction. When can a Bridgeport CT criminal lawyer use intoxication as your defense?
Under Connecticut law, there are two ways an individual can become intoxicated. The first form of intoxication is called voluntary intoxication. Voluntary intoxication is when a person willingly and knowingly consumes alcohol or takes a controlled substance. For example, ordering and consuming several beers in an hour the bar is voluntary intoxication.
Voluntary intoxication can only be used as a defense to a small subset of crimes, and oftentimes is a far more difficult defense for a Bridgeport CT criminal lawyer to use and argue. In Connecticut, voluntary intoxication is an affirmative defense to criminal charges.
For an affirmative defense, the prosecutor is able to prove all elements of the criminal charges against you, and there is no reasonable doubt that you committed the crime, which you, as the defendant, are able to provide enough evidence to negate the prosecutor’s case and requires the jury to acquit. In many ways, an affirmative defense in Connecticut is a higher standard of evidence and proof than the prosecutor’s burden of reasonable doubt.
Involuntary intoxication is a far more widely accepted defense to Bridgeport CT criminal charges. In an instance of involuntary intoxication, the defendant was tricked or unknowingly consumed drugs or alcohol. For example, if a controlled substance is placed in food or beverage without the defendant’s knowledge. As a defense, involuntary intoxication is only applicable when the defendant then acts without the appropriate mindset or intention to commit a crime.
Involuntary intoxication can be a defense to specific intent crimes. These are crimes where the definition of the crime requires the defendant to have a certain mindset or intent when committing the criminal acts. For example, in Connecticut the statute defining murder requires that the defendant acted with the “intent to cause the death of another person,” or in the state’s statute defining larceny, the defendant intended to deprive another person of property.
Many other crimes in Connecticut are general intent crimes, and the mindset of the defendant doesn’t impact a guilty or not guilty verdict. This means involuntary intoxication isn’t a defense to general intent crimes like rape, kidnapping, and false imprisonment.
An increase in the variety and use of prescription pills for everything from anxiety to sleep aids, has required courts in Connecticut to face a new question – is intoxication by prescription pills different from intoxication by illicit drugs or alcohol?
Every prescription medication comes with a list of side effects and other warnings. If you’ve taken a medication for depression or anxiety, that list might be significant and a doctor will usually cover the possible effects with you. Possible side effects are mood swings, agitation, or other changes to character and personality. If you commit a crime when taking these specific drugs, do you have a defense?
In general, the consumption of a controlled substance that leads to intoxication follows the same rules as intoxication by alcohol. If you voluntarily take a drug or substance while in a nightclub, the court will view your defense as a defense of voluntary intoxication. Prescription pills are viewed and treated in the same manner.
It’s possible a Bridgeport CT criminal lawyer can make a more robust and emotional argument related to your use of a prescription pill that unknowingly, but inexplicably, caused a change in your behavior and decision-making, such that you didn’t appreciate the repercussions or intent of your actions.
If you are in need a defense to criminal charges, you should speak with a Bridgeport CT criminal lawyer today. Our team at Schwartz Law can answer your questions about defense strategy and representation in a single, informative, and free initial consultation. Call our local office today at 203-255-9829.
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