Intoxication as a Defense
A person that is on trial for a crime in Texas has the possibility of being acquitted, even if the prosecution is able to meet their burden of establishing the defendant committed the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is known as an “affirmative defense”.
Involuntary intoxication is an affirmative defense and can be used as a defense to crimes requiring a culpable mental state or criminal intent. Involuntary Intoxication commonly occurs when a person is tricked into consuming alcohol or a controlled substance.
This mainly transpires when a person slips a drug, typically a sedative, into another person’s beverage. Arguing involuntary intoxication before a court is permitted at trial to justify a defendant’s actions, excluding driving while intoxicated (DWI) prosecutions.
Houston Lawyer for Intoxication Defense
If you have been charged with a crime but you believe your actions were justified under law, you need the assistance of an experienced Houston, Texas criminal defense attorney. Horak Law aggressively represents clients throughout Houston, Montgomery County, Harris County, Brazoria County, Liberty County, Waller County, Fort Bend County, and Galveston County.
Montgomery County trial attorney Matt Horak is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a former Assistant District Attorney with years of experience successfully handling criminal cases. Contact Horak Law at (713) 225-8000 to receive a confidential legal consultation.
Harris County Intoxication Defense Information Center
- How is Intoxication defined in Texas?
- How can you prove intoxication in a criminal case?
- What has intoxication been successfully used in a criminal case?
- Where can I learn more about intoxication?
Pursuant to Texas Penal Code Sec. 8.04, “Intoxication” is the disturbance of a person’s normal mental or physical capacity caused by the introduction of alcohol or any other substance into their body. Voluntary intoxication does not constitute a defense to the commission of the crime.
When temporary insanity is relied upon by the defendant and the evidence tends to show that insanity was caused by intoxication at that time, the court shall charge the jury in accordance with the provisions of this section.
To prove involuntary intoxication, the defendant must prove by preponderance of the evidence that he became intoxicated in one of three general scenarios:
- Defendant was unaware of ingesting the intoxicating substance;
- Force or duress was used when introducing the intoxicating substance to the defendant’s body; or
- The defendant was completely unaware of the possible intoxicating side effects related to a prescription drug, as the defendant took the prescription drug for a medicinal purpose and not for its intoxicating properties.
Temporary insanity due to intoxication is an affirmative defense in Texas but it can only be raised in the sentencing phase of a criminal trial. As this defense can only be raised at the sentencing phase, it is typically only introduced to mitigate evidence.
To be considered as an affirmative defense, the defense must establish that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the alleged crime and the intoxicating substance rendered the defendant temporarily insane. See Arnold v. State, 742 S.W.2d 10, 14 (Tex.Crim.App. 1987)
Once raised, the judge shall instruct the jury on voluntary intoxication as a mitigating issue.
Involuntary intoxication is an affirmative defense to prosecution, if, at the time of the alleged offense, the defendant either did not know that his conduct was wrong or was incapable of abiding by the law allegedly violated. See Mendenhall v. State, 77 S.W.3d 815 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002).
Furthermore, intoxication is “involuntary” when the defendant “exercised no independent judgment or violation in taking the intoxicant.” See Mendenhall v. State, 77 S.W.3d 815 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002).
Horak Law– Attorney for Intoxication Defense in Harris County
If you committed a crime because you became intoxicated involuntarily, you need the assistance of a knowledgeable Houston, Texas criminal defense attorney. Horak Law zealously represents clients throughout Houston, Montgomery County, Harris County, Brazoria County, Liberty County, Waller County, Fort Bend County, and Galveston County.
Harris County trial attorney Matt Horak is board certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a former Assistant District Attorney with experience successfully defending clients faced with criminal charges. Contact Horak Law at (713) 225-8000 or submit an online form to schedule a confidential consultation.