Earlier this fall, an off-duty Pennsylvania police officer was seen on security cameras, allegedly slashing the tires of cars parked outside of a local restaurant he had been patronizing. While many details are still unknown, police stated that the restaurant's servers had refused to serve the officer more alcohol. The incident caused a whopping $5,500 in damages.
Intoxication as a Defense
It may seem that this officer is guilty as charged and will have no way to reduce or even drop the charges against him. But many states in America, including Pennsylvania, allow a defendant to use intoxication as a defense to their charges. A defendant can only successfully claim intoxication as a defense if they can prove that their altered mental state prevented them from having the requisite “mens rea.”
What is Mens Rea?
For a defendant to be guilty of a crime, they must have (1) performed the act, and (2) had a particular state of mind while doing so. If the defendant knowingly participated in the act, they have the required mens rea to be found guilty of the crime. For the prosecution to prove a defendant knowingly participated in the act, they must show beyond a reasonable doubt that at the moment, the defendant was almost certain that the act would cause a particular result.
In the instance above, if the police officer were able to show that his inebriated state made it impossible for him to knowingly and purposefully slash the tires of the vehicles outside the restaurant, he would not have the required mens rea to fulfill the definition of the crime.
How a Criminal Attorney Can Help
Arguing that you were too intoxicated to understand that your actions fit a specific offense can be a tough sell. Courts are very hesitant to allow a defendant to use the “I was drunk” excuse to get them off the hook. In fact, many states break down the intoxication defense and require defendants to explain whether they were involuntarily or voluntarily intoxicated. In these states, involuntary intoxication is an easier threshold for the defense to meet.
Arrests that were made while you, or a family member, were intoxicated can be hard to manage. Defendants who were intoxicated at the time of arrest may not remember being read their Miranda rights or may have waived their rights when they shouldn't have. Intoxicated arrestees are less inhibited and more inclined to speak without representation, use poor judgment when being questioned, or even forget key points of the alleged crime. That's why having a skilled criminal attorney on your side from the moment of your arrest is essential. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a dedicated criminal attorney who fights passionately for his clients' futures by building solid defenses to reduce or even drop their criminal charges. You don't have to go through this alone. Call 888.535.5353 today to schedule a consultation.