Evaluate the defence of intoxication (Public policy v legal principle…
Evaluate the defence of intoxication
Public policy v legal principle
Public policy: Making law based on protection of society. Favors conviction for intoxication as it fuels crimes
Legal principle: Only fair to acquit where there's no mens rea and not at fault.
Intoxication has tried to balance these contrasting interests. Over 40 years, public policy has priority
E.g: A mistaken belief caused by voluntary intoxication isn't sufficient for the defence of self defence: s.76(5) CJIA 2008
Intoxication v coincidence rule
MAJEWSKI RULE: holding D guilty as reckless in getting intoxicated in the first place, ignores coincidence principle. This could be hours before actus reus so they don't coincide.
Specific or basic?
Identification by courts of specific and basic intent offences isn't consistently or logically applied
E.g: Involuntary manslaughter = basic intent. However, unlawful act manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter doesn't mention recklessness at all.
2009 Law Commission reform
Abolishing the terms 'specific' and 'basic intent'
List of mens rea that the prosecution always had to prove.
These mens rea would be called 'integral fault elements'
Voluntary intoxication could be used for offences with integral fault elements. MAJEWSKI would apply to all others
In deciding whether D is liable, D should be treated as being aware of things they would have been aware of whilst sober.
If the reforms were enacted by Parliament, the law would be clearer and more accessible
D is charged under s.18, a specific intent offence
Can use intoxication as a defence provided he was so intoxicated he couldn't form the intent required
D charged under s.20, a basic intent offence
Intoxication isn't a defence due to MAJEWSKI rule. Guilty of lower offence
Not all specific intent offences have 'fall-back' basic intent offences. E.g: Theft
Therefore there's inconsistency in the law