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Intoxication as a defense to criminal charges


In some criminal proceedings in New Jersey, intoxication may be used as a defense. This is not true in all cases, however. The availability of intoxication as a defense will depend on whether the intoxicated state resulted involuntarily or voluntarily as well as the type of offense with which the person is charged.

A person who was involuntarily intoxicated at the time the alleged crime was committed may be able to assert involuntary intoxication as a complete defense to the charge. In order to do so, their intoxicated state must have been so severe that they would have been legally insane at the time, which means they must have been unable to differentiate between wrong and right.

The ability to assert voluntary intoxication as a defense depends upon the offense charged, and it is not available in all cases. Voluntary intoxication, if allowed as a defense, will need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial. It may only be asserted to negate the element of specific intent in certain crimes. It is not available as a defense against general intent crimes, however, or in some types of specific intent crimes.

People who are facing serious criminal charges and who were intoxicated at the time of the alleged infraction may want to discuss this situation with their criminal defense attorney to determine whether it would be a viable strategy to employ. The attorney may review the type of intoxication and all evidence of it to determine whether or not it may be an available defense and at what stage of the trial it should be asserted.

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