Most jurisdictions today do not permit a person who voluntarily intoxicates himself and consequently commits a crime while intoxicated, to use voluntary intoxication as a defense in order to avoid criminal liability. Even though intoxication impairs one’s mental capacity to reason and act logically, most courts argue that to hold otherwise would shield particular groups of people from prosecution for their criminal acts. However, the Common Law allows for voluntary intoxication defense in specific-intent crimes such as murder. Proof of possession of the necessary mental state of malice is a requisite, otherwise, a murder charge may be reduced to a manslaughter, and in some case even an acquittal is issued.
In Arkansas, voluntary intoxication is no longer a defense for general-intent crimes such as drunk driving or robbery. The Arkansas Act of 1977, however, eliminated this defense for both general-intent and specific-intent crimes. It argued that the use of voluntary intoxication defense was ‘detrimental to the welfare and safety of its citizens’ (Justia US Law, 1986), thus, every person should be held accountable for their actions. For instance, in the case of White v. State of 1986, the supreme courts rejected the accused defense of voluntary intoxication and was charged with first degree murder. This amendment, therefore, overruled the Common Law provisions with regards to intent.
Voluntary intoxication defense is a loophole that has been used by criminals to avoid criminal liability. This may promote irresponsible behavior in the society and let criminals walk free after committing heinous crimes. Where is the justice in that? How will victims get reprieve? Therefore, this defense should be abolished in all jurisdictions. As the saying goes, you shall reap what you sow.
Justia US Law (2007).Arkansas Supreme Court Decisions 1986: White V. State. Justia.
Retrieved from: www.justia.com.