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Inebriation and Intent: A Closer Look at Legal Defenses in Murder Trails

The principle is that anyone who voluntarily consumes a narcotic or intoxicating substance, with full awareness of its nature, is responsible for the crimes committed under its influence. The law applies based on complete awareness, implying the presence of criminal intent in offenses of a general nature.

However, there are certain crimes in which the law requires criminal intent on the part of the accused. In such cases, it is necessary to establish that the criminal intent was indeed present in the actions of the accused, and the court must provide evidence of its existence in its judgment.

Herein we refer to one of the cases where the accused, under the influence of alcohol, committed murder. The public prosecutor brought him to criminal trial and sought punishment for intentional homicide.

During the trial, the defense of the accused argued that, due to intoxication from alcohol, the accused was not responsible for his actions. However, the court did not accept this defense, stating that it may not be relied on. Consequently, the accused was convicted of intentional homicide.

A challenge was filed against the verdict, pointing out deficiencies in causation. The contention put forth was that an individual under the influence, devoid of sensation or choice, lacks the intent to commit murder. Whether the intoxicating substance was consumed knowingly and willingly or involuntarily, if it has impaired their senses and decision-making, they should not be held responsible for intentional homicide as the commission of the act necessitates the presence of criminal intent in the individual, and the court must establish this in its judgment. The court considered the defense insufficient, as indicated by the statement in the contested judgment: “this defense may not be relied on by the court.”

The Court of Cassation ruled to overturn the challenged judgment and stated that the court should have scrutinized this defense, elucidating the reasons for not accepting it. This is because it is a general defense that, if valid, would negate the accused’s intent to commit murder, as it is not justifiable to punish someone for intentional homicide unless they intended to commit the act and then consumed alcohol to encourage the execution of their intent.

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Written By

Noor Mahdy - Attorney at Law

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