Is Intoxication a Defense to a Crime in Florida?
Many individuals who are substantially under the influence of alcohol or drugs make poor decisions and may end up arrested and charged with criminal offenses. In some situations, intoxicated individuals may not even remember the events alleged in the police report. This leads to a common question heard by criminal defense attorneys: can you use the fact that you were intoxicated as a defense in Florida?
Recent media outlets reported that a New York man visiting Boca Raton allegedly broke into the nail salon at a resort, knocked over displays, took two bottles of polish, and lost consciousness by the hotel pool. Law enforcement reports that he has been charged with criminal mischief, petit theft, and burglary. Arrest reports indicate that the man was obviously drunk during and after the incident and he is likely wondering whether this can be a defense against his charges.
Intoxication Is Not a Defense If It is Voluntary
In 1999, legislators in Florida passed a law that mandated voluntary intoxication is not a defense to any crime in our state. This means that if you choose to take drugs or drink alcohol and then lose control and commit a crime, you may still be held criminally responsible for your actions even if you do not remember committing the act.
This law does not necessarily mean that you will automatically be convicted, however. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate your case and identify any other potential legal defenses that you may raise.
Involuntary Intoxication Exception
There is one exception to the intoxication law, which applies in certain circumstances involving prescription medication. In such situations, a licensed medical professional prescribes certain medication and the patient takes the medication trusting the judgment of the medical professional. The drugs then result in unexpected intoxication that causes the patient to violate the law. Such involuntary intoxication can lead to a finding of legal insanity because the drugs rendered the individual incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong.
This defense is commonly used in cases involving charges of driving under the influence (DUI). Patients may take medication believing that they will be fine to drive. Suddenly, while behind the wheel, the intoxicating effects of the drugs hit them and their driving ability becomes impaired. If your defense attorney can prove that your impairment was caused by unexpected effects of properly prescribed medication, this may be a solid defense to the charges.
This involuntary intoxication defense does not apply, however, if an individual is believed to have purposely taken too much medication in abuse of the prescription. It also does not apply if an individual is unexpectedly impaired by drugs not properly prescribed to them.
Contact A Boca Raton Criminal Defense Attorney For Assistance Today
At the law firm of Lavalle, Brown & Ronan in Boca Raton, our experienced criminal defense attorneys understand how to defend against a wide range of charges including DUI, theft crimes, criminal mischief, among many others. No matter what the circumstances of your case may be, please do not hesitate to call our office at 888-646-1315 for help today.