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Can you fight an assault charge based on your intoxicated state?

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Assault charges are among the most common violent criminal offenses. Individuals who get into a physical fight with someone else can find themselves accused of assault even if they didn’t intend to hurt the other person seriously.

You may have woken up the morning after a wild party feeling sore and confused. Later, the reason for your soreness became obvious when the police arrived, informed you that you were involved in a physical altercation and then arrested you on allegations of assault.

You may not remember enough about the previous evening to reasonably defend yourself against such accusations. Can you use the fact that you were very intoxicated as a defense?

Voluntary intoxication is not a valid defense strategy

At first glance, it may seem like choosing to drink would limit your culpability for criminal activity. After all, individuals who are under the influence can’t enter into binding contracts or give consent. How could you possibly have criminal intent in such a situation?

Lawmakers and judges have had to look into this exact issue, as criminal defendants have used this strategy to push back against prosecution. Generally speaking, the courts will not allow an affirmative defense based on intoxication. If you decided to drink or consume illegal drugs, you accepted the risk that comes with intoxication by doing so.

You cannot choose to drink more than you know you should and then blame your decision to drink for any bad actions taken while under the influence. In rare cases, some individuals could defend against criminal allegations by claiming involuntary intoxication. If someone spiked your drink or if the staff at a restaurant didn’t tell you that the beverage you ordered contained alcohol, then your impairments might influence your defense options.

There are numerous viable defense strategies in assault cases

Just because you cannot blame your actions on your drinking does not prevent you from mounting a successful criminal defense. Those accused of assault and similar violent crimes will typically have numerous defense options available depending on the circumstances leading to their charges.

The better you understand Maryland laws related to violent crimes, the easier it will be for you to plan a successful defense strategy. Evaluating different options for your criminal defense can help you appropriately respond to pending violent criminal charges in Maryland.