Intoxication - AO2 points (A2 Law OCR)

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1. Intoxication is not strictly a defence ­ more of a denial of mens rea. This makes it more
difficult for the defendant to rely on, and therefore protects the public, as when a defendant
commits a crime whilst intoxicated, they are most likely to be
criminally liable for the offence. If it were easy to use
successfully, it would not protect the public, and any crook could
become intoxicated before committing a crime and pay no
2. Nearly 80% of all crimes are committed whilst the defendant is intoxicated in some way. The
fact that it is a very strict defence in how it can be used means that it has a deterrent effect,
Defendants will not be easily acquitted, and so may think twice about becoming intoxicated.
3. There are two types of intoxication due to the many ways a person can be
intoxicated. The two types are voluntary and involuntary intoxication. The fact that
there are two defences within intoxication helps to distinguish those who should be
responsible for their actions from those who should not. If the intoxication is
voluntary an offence is committed, the defendant should take responsibility.
4. Involuntary = full acquittal. This is fair on the defendant as if they can prove that they had no
mens rea element, i.e. they did not intend to become intoxicated, and they were not
reckless in doing so, they have no responsibility for the offence committed. (Hardie 1985)
5. In one case, however the law on involuntary intoxication was changed so that if the
defendant has the mens rea for an offence, yet does not act upon it, yet when involuntarily
intoxicated he does, the defendant will be liable for the offence. (Kingston 1994) This could
be seen as harsh on the defendant, as he would not have acted on his mens rea if he had not
been involuntarily intoxicated. This protects the public in some ways, because as soon as a
person decides to take one drink, he is potentially liable for any crimes he might commit. This
could also be seen as a very strict law for those who drink responsibly. It is a strong
deterrent and includes all people, as alcohol may affect people in different ways. The courts
see it as necessary due to the amount of crimes committed by
people who are intoxicated.
6. Voluntary intoxication does not provide a defence to crimes of basic
intent. This is because basic intent crimes need only the mens rea of

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The judges in the case of MAJEWSKI 1977 held that becoming
intoxicated voluntarily was a reckless course of conduct, and therefore the defendant should
be guilty. This protects the public, as people may not escape liability for their crimes due to
their intoxication.
7. Voluntary intoxication may provide a defence to crimes of specific intent, as these require
the mens rea of intention.…read more


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