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Can intoxication help someone defend against assault charges?

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2023 | Assault |

Adults in Virginia may find themselves facing assault charges for a host of different questionable choices. Maybe they became engaged in a verbal confrontation at a party and became very aggressive in their language toward another person. Maybe there was a physical confrontation at a bar or restaurant.

Alcohol disinhibits people, which can lead to individuals making impulsive choices that can escalate into interpersonal violence. Even those who are usually calm and rational might become volatile under certain circumstances, especially if they have had too much to drink.

Those who find themselves facing assault charges in Virginia need to defend against these charges to avoid a criminal record and other penalties that the courts could sentence them to if they were to plead guilty. Can someone’s intoxication at the time of a fight help them more effectively respond to assault charges?

Intoxication defenses are rare

People largely understand how alcohol might affect their behavior, and they accept the possibility of poor decision-making and impulsive actions when they choose to consume excessive amounts of alcohol or other mind-altering substances.

The Virginia state Supreme Court has ruled previously on intoxication defenses. In a scenario where someone voluntarily consumes mind-altering substances, they cannot use their intoxication as a means of diminishing their criminal intent or responsibility for the situation.

However, there are two scenarios in which someone’s chemical intoxication could influence their defense strategy. Someone unknowingly or non-consensually intoxicated, possibly because of drugs slipped into a beverage, could potentially use their surprise impairment as part of their legal defense strategy.

In cases where people have adverse reactions to prescription medications, their poor physiological response to a typically safe medication could diminish their culpability for certain actions. For the most part, those accused of assault and other violent offenses will not be able to blame it on the alcohol they consumed.

There are many ways to avoid an assault conviction

Perhaps someone can show through witness statements that they were not the aggressor in the situation but rather acted to protect themselves. Perhaps the situation is actually a case of mistaken identity and the person accused wasn’t involved in the precipitating incident at all.

Those accused of assault need to evaluate the evidence against them to determine the best means of working with an attorney to craft an effective defense strategy. Learning more about viable and unrealistic assault defense strategies can help those who are hoping to avoid a conviction.