Involuntary Intoxication


SHORSTEIN, LASNETSKI, & GIHON
explains the
Involuntary Intoxication
defense.
Involuntary intoxication relates to the taking of medication under the supervision of, and as prescribed by, a physician and becoming intoxicated through no fault of your own.  This defense is not available if you took more medication than prescribed, or took the medication more often than prescribed. 

What is the involuntary intoxication defense?

Involuntary intoxication is a defense to specific intent crimes where you can establish that you were involuntarily intoxicated to the point where you could not form the specific intent to commit the offense or for all crimes where you can establish the you were legally insane at the time of the offense due to the prescribed medication.

To establish the involuntary intoxication defense, you must prove:
  • you were lawfully prescribed the medication by a practitioner, and
  • you used, consumer, or injected the prescription as ti was prescribed and directed by the practitioner, and
  • as a result of taking the medication as prescribed, you
    • were so intoxicated that you could not form the specific intent at the time of the offense.  or
    • did not know what you were doing or its consequences, or
    • you knew what you were doing and its consequences, but did not know it was wrong. 


Who is considered a "practitioner?"

A "practitioner" is one of the following who is licensed and who holds a valid federal controlled substance registry number:

  • physician 
  • dentist
  • veterinarian
  • osteopathic physician
  • naturopath
  • podiatric physician

What if I had a bad reaction to my prescribed medication?

A bad reaction to prescribed medication alone is not enough.  The effect of the medication had to be enough to prevent you from being able to have the specific intent to commit the act. 

The use of medication or consumption of an intoxicating liquor, drug, or other substance that merely arouses passions, diminishes perceptions, releases inhibitions, or clouds reason and judgment does not excuse the commission of a crime. 

Who decides if I was involuntarily intoxicated at the time?

The jury decides whether to find you guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of involuntary intoxication.  You have the burden of proving that you were involuntarily intoxicated at the time of the offense.  All persons are presumed to be sane.  You must prove that you were involuntarily intoxicated by clear and convincing evidence

Clear and convincing evidence is evidence that is precise, explicit, lacking in confusion, and of such weight that it produces a firm belief, without hesitation, about the matter in issue. 

How do I prove I was involuntarily intoxicated at the time of the offense?

A case involving an involuntary intoxication defense usually involves a battle of the experts.  Both sides will typically retain a mental health expert, have you evaluated, and have a report prepared.  Both sides would present evidence through expert testimony, witnesses, and other evidence.  The prosecution will often rebut the defense by presenting any evidence it has that you were not so intoxicated that you could not form the specific intent to commit the crime or that you used alcohol, other drugs, or more than the prescribed dose of the prescribed medication .  The defense will present evidence showing that you took the medication as prescribed and that your actions were so abnormal and out of context, that you could not form the specific intent to commit the alleged act.

What happens if I'm found not guilty because of involuntary intoxication?

If the jury believes that you proved by clear and convincing evidence that you could not form the specific intent to commit the act because of involuntary intoxication, they would simply find you not guilty and the case would be over.

If you or a loved one is charged with a criminal offense and you think you have an
Involuntary Intoxication defense,

Call Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon Now!

904-642-3332 (Jacksonville)
or
407-228-2019
(Orlando). 

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