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Can your drinking give you a defense against assault charges?

On Behalf of | Jul 23, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Most of the time, you are a good-natured and amiable person. You get along with others and have fun in social settings. However, at a party or maybe a bar, someone starts an argument with you.

If you’ve already had a couple of drinks, things get heated more quickly than they usually would. You might even take things outside, leading to a physical fight.

Whether the police arrived during the altercation to break it up or tracked you down the next day to ask you questions, that alcohol-inspired disagreement could possibly lead to assault charges. Will your consumption of alcohol prior to the fight help you defend yourself? 

Illinois has specific rules about intoxication defenses

In Illinois, intoxication defenses are essentially a subcategory of insanity pleas. By claiming that chemical impairment affected their judgment or behavior, defendants can demonstrate a lack of intent to commit a crime and potentially prove their innocence.

However, there is only one situation in which an individual accused of a crime while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can use their intoxication as part of their defense in court. Only those who become involuntarily impaired can use the consumption of drugs or alcohol as an excuse for criminal behavior.

If you knowingly went out and drank enough beers to become drunk, you are still responsible for your behavior while drunk. The same is true of those who consume other mind-altering substances. However, if someone drugged your drink, that additional chemical and your lack of consent in its consumption could help you defend yourself.

There are often multiple defense options for an alcohol-related assault

Just because you can’t blame the drinks you had for your behavior doesn’t mean your only choice is to plead guilty to the charges. You could have multiple other defense options available to you, from challenging the alleged victim’s version of events to demonstrating that you acted in self-defense because they threw the first punch.

Everything from the evidence collected by the police to the statement given by the other person involved could impact the best way to defend yourself. Eliminating defense strategies that won’t work for you can help you find the best way to respond to a pending criminal charge.