Involuntary Intoxication

Involuntary Intoxication Defense in Georgia

Involuntary intoxication can be a powerful argument in the right case and with the assistance of an experienced attorney. Even knowledgeable prosecutors and defense attorneys do not sufficiently understand this defense. Lawson and Berry have been handling criminal cases for over 20 years and have seen or argued virtually every defense you can think of. Trust them if you think involuntary intoxication applies in your case. A charge is not the same as a conviction so let them help you today! 

Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §16-3-4 Outlines Whether Intoxication is a Defense 

A person shall not be found guilty of a crime when, at the time of the act, omission, or negligence constituting the crime, the person, because of involuntary intoxication, did not have sufficient mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong in relation to such act. 

The statute defines involuntary intoxication as being caused by one of two things:

  • Consumption of a substance through excusable ignorance; or
  • The coercion, fraud, artifice, or contrivance of another person.

The Court deems that alcoholism does not constitute involuntary intoxication and is not a defense to any criminal act. Ford v. State, 164 Ga. App. 620, (1982).

Voluntary intoxication is not an excuse for any criminal act, but involuntary intoxication will be sufficient to remove the mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong in relation to the act. Furthermore, involuntary intoxication may excuse the criminal act. Bailey v. State, 198 Ga. App. 632, (1991). As long as a suspect can distinguish between right and wrong, can reason and act rationally when sober, then they will be criminally responsible for their actions. Booth v. State. 184 Ga. App. 494, (1987). 

Georgia Case Law

A man was found guilty of aggravated assault and felony murder even though he argued he should not be convicted because of the involuntary intoxication defense. Guyse v. State, 286 Ga. 574, (2010). In this case, the suspect, Guyse, voluntarily became intoxicated and then used a vehicle as an offensive weapon when he was extremely drunk. The Court found that there was no evidence of brain damage or any other proof that he did not know the difference between right and wrong at the time he committed the act. Furthermore, since he voluntarily became intoxicated, this defense did not apply, and the Court found him guilty of all crimes.

Another incident where the involuntary intoxication defense was not supported by the evidence was in Carter v. State. 248 Ga. App. 139, (2001). Defendant was on prescription medicine, and the doctor told her not to consume alcohol while on the medication. She was charged with aggravated assault with a knife, but she argued that because of her prescription medicine combined with alcohol, she did not have the mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong at the time. However, because the evidence proved that drinking alcohol while taking medicine was in direct violation of the doctor's orders, the involuntary intoxicated defense was not supported, and the Court convicted her of aggravated assault.

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If you or a loved one believe that involuntary intoxication applies to your case, contact our offices immediately. The Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys at Lawson and Berry are here to help 24/7. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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