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When intoxication can be a defense to a crime

An intoxicated person who commits a crime in California might be able to wage an effective criminal defense if the intoxication was involuntary. Consuming an intoxicating substance involuntarily could occur under a number of circumstances. The substance could be forced upon a person by another party, or the person took it without knowing or understanding what the substance was.

A third valid situation for involuntary intoxication arises when the person knew what the substance was but experienced an abnormal physical reaction to it that resulted in excessive intoxication. For example, a person who drinks gin for the first time knows that the alcohol could impair function, but the person is unaware of possessing a rare allergy to the juniper berries used to make gin. The allergic reaction triggers severe intoxication that would not be expected from one drink. Exoneration from crimes committed during the period in which the person was in this state could be possible.

Such disproportionate effects caused by physical vulnerabilities or reactions are known as pathological intoxication. This type of intoxication qualifies as a disease. In all forms of involuntary intoxication, the person fighting criminal charges might be able to establish a legal state of insanity. Someone unable to temporarily understand right or wrong under these circumstances or who was unaware of personal actions during a blackout could be acquitted of criminal charges.

A person who has been charged with a crime will usually benefit from obtaining legal representation. A criminal defense attorney could explain the nature of the criminal charges and outline the potential penalties. This information might help the defendant make a choice about how to enter a plea in court. The attorney will also evaluate the evidence in the case in order to develop a strong criminal defense strategy.

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