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This essay provides an overview of the legal issues relating to intoxication, including the effect of voluntary intoxication in imputing to an offender a required offense culpable state of mind that he may not actually have had at the time of the offense; the effect of involuntary intoxication in providing a defense by negating a required offense culpability element or by satisfying the conditions of a general excuse; the legal effect of alcoholism or addiction in rendering intoxication involuntary; and the limitation on using alcoholism or addiction in this way if the offender can be judged to be reasonably responsible for creating his own addiction. It notes some of the differences between the US and UK approaches on some issues.


Criminal law, culpability, blameworthiness, defenses, excuses, drugs, mens rea, drunkenness, specific & basic/general intent, intuitions of justice, duress, compulsion, involuntary intoxication, voluntary intoxication, addiction, alcoholism, negating offense element

Publication Title

Journal of Criminal Law

Publication Citation

82 J. Crim. L. 381 (2018)