A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Perspective on Voluntary Intoxication, Drinking and Assaults
As with every assault, whether it is a serious felony charge or a a lower level misdemeanor, there needs to be the intent to assault someone, and this is where the defense of voluntary intoxication comes into play.
Voluntary intoxication is a legitimate defense that must be considered in every assault case that involves alcohol. The ability of your defense lawyer | attorney to understand and articulate the facts and circumstances justifying this defense is essential. We have found that our drive ream approach to law and ability to use experts to substantiate our defense is essential to our negotiation or trial.
In order to qualify a case for a voluntary intoxication defense, your lawyer | attorney must be able to argue:
(1) The crime charged has as an element a particular mental state. With assaults, the “intent” is almost always intentional … meaning you intended to assault someone.
(2) There is substantial evidence of drinking. This can be done with bar bills or witness testimony.
(3) The defendant presents evidence that the drinking affected his or her ability to acquire the required mental state. State v. Gallegos, 65 Wn.App. 230, 238, 828 P.2d 37 (1992) (cited in State v. Ager, 128 Wn.2d 85, 904 P.2d 715 (1995)). The evidence “must reasonably and logically connect the defendant’s voluntary intoxication with the asserted inability to form the required level of culpability to commit the crime charged. … Evidence of drinking alone is insufficient to warrant the instruction; instead, there must be ‘substantial evidence of the effects of the alcohol on the defendant’s mind or body.’” State v. Gabryschak, 83 Wn.App. 249, 252–53, 921 P.2d 549 (1996) (citations omitted). See also State v. Everybodytalksabout, 145 Wn.2d 456, 479, 39 P.3d 294 (2002) (defendant not entitled to a voluntary intoxication instruction where he did not present sufficient evidence to show his intoxication affected his ability to acquire the required mental state); State v. Harris, 122 Wn.App. 547, 552–53, 90 P.3d 1133 (2004) (same); State v. Hall, 104 Wn.App. 56, 60–61, 14 P.3d 884 (2000) (same); State v. Priest, 100 Wn.App. 451, 455, 997 P.2d 452 (2000) (same). In a technical sense, intoxication is not a “true defense” because a criminal act committed by a person who is voluntarily intoxicated is not justified or excused. Rather, intoxication may raise a reasonable doubt as to a mental state required for conviction of a certain crime.
If you or a loved one is under investigation or arrested for assault and alcohol is involved, it is important they assert their right to counsel and speak with our defense attorneys | lawyers before they give a statement to the police. The law surrounding voluntary intoxication has many fine details and consulting | speaking with a knowledgeable defense lawyer assures you have a team of experienced third parties involved in the decision making process. If you or a loved one is in jail, defense lawyers | attorneys have the right to visitation and a private discussion with their clients. Any defense attorney | lawyer with integrity will always educate and assist their clients in building a case. We have helped a significant number of clients avoid charges by giving a statement after a proper vetting. Even if we decide not to give a statement, our office will contact the investigating officers on your behalf, let them know you are asserting your right to remain silent and explain any potential arrest and bail issues to you and your family.
Our firm has a unique blend of courtroom experience, skills, knowledge and temperament. Our criminal defense lawyers | attorneys work as a team and are highly experienced in dealing with the complex fact specific arguments surrounding assaults and voluntary intoxication. Our lawyers know that criminal cases are rarely as simple as police reports claim and our clients retain us early on in the process to make sure their rights are protected. Consultations are free but a poor choice in counsel is not. The first step in evaluating counsel is an appointment.