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Can alcohol influence a defense strategy for assault charges?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Assault charges can be filed as a result of a variety of circumstances. Someone in Maryland might end up arrested when their neighbors call the police over a particularly loud argument. Other times, it might be a physical altercation in a public location that leads to someone’s arrest and prosecution.

Those accused of assaults in Maryland may normally be kind and patient individuals. The situation that led to their arrest may have involved several unusual factors. They may hope to fight the charges that they face by raising questions about what happened and what criminal intent they actually had.

Even those who admit their involvement in a violent encounter may question the appropriateness of their prosecution and may hope to defend against the charges they face. Oftentimes, violent confrontations involve parties who have recently consumed alcohol. Can severe intoxication help someone develop a defense strategy when accused of a violent offense?

Voluntary intoxication does not eliminate responsibility

An alcohol defense is unlikely to work in most criminal cases in Maryland. Most people understand that alcohol and other intoxicating substances can affect their decision-making ability and emotional responses to others. They therefore limit what they drink in social situations and become more proactive about moderating their responses to others after drinking.

There is a known association between alcohol consumption and decreased personal inhibitions. People may become more impulsive and aggressive. They may fail to consider long-term consequences or to make use of tools that typically help them regulate their emotions in difficult situations.

Someone who chooses to drink has to take responsibility for their actions while under the influence. Someone who has had too much to drink is still legally responsible if they cause a car crash, and they would also still be responsible if they started a fistfight that put someone else in the hospital. In general, the Maryland criminal courts have repeatedly declined to uphold claims of voluntary intoxication as an excuse for violent conduct.

That being said, there could still be other defense strategies that could work for someone involved in an alcohol-fuel confrontation. Going over the state’s evidence and learning more about the law by seeking legal guidance can help people better respond to violent charges in Maryland in strategic and personalized ways.