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Intoxication is not a legal defence

Although legally speaking, intoxication is not a legal defence, it is however raised by a defendant in a criminal case because it allows him to point or adduce evidence for his defence to sway the evidence of the prosecution and cast a reasonable doubt on their case against him.

Intoxication is pleaded as a defence and its elements and purposes are: a.) to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case as to the existence of actus reus b. and raises doubt as to the existence of mens rea whether as an intention, recklessness of knowledge.

In New South Wales, the Crimes Act 1900 was amended to include a statutory provision on intoxication for purposes of criminal law which restricted the defence reliance on the fact of being intoxicated to be absolved of the criminal charge. The statute provides that evidence that a person was intoxicated may be taken into account in determining the fact whether his intoxication was premeditated to carry out the offence committed. If it was found out that the intoxication was intentionally done to commit the offence, such evidence will be disregarded and will not be taken into account by the court.

Intoxication if self induced will not be taken into account as evidence of the defence. In relation to murder and manslaughter, if the intoxication of the defendant was not self-induced, the court may take into account such evidence to determine whether he has the requisite of Mens rea to commit the offence. However, if the intoxication was self-induced, as stated, it will not be taken into account. Intoxication per se is not a legal defence. It is the purpose for which it is offered as evidence of the defence which is determined by the court.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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