Intoxication and mistake

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Intoxication and mistake
  • Intoxication
  • Mistake
  • For further information, see:
  • For further information, see:

Intoxication and mistake


General defences are those which arise from specific characteristics of the defendant or the circumstances of the offence which mean that the prosecution cannot prove all the elements of the offence. The investigating officer is under a duty to investigate crime impartially and fairly and so evidence supporting a defence should be collected and retained in the same way as evidence of the offence. Some offences are subject to specific statutory defences but the general defences should be considered in every case.

Intoxication may render the accused incapable of forming the required criminal intention of committing a particular crime. Intoxication may be voluntary or involuntary and may be brought about by drink or drugs. Where an offence requires specific criminal intent, voluntary intoxication may be sufficient to show that the accused could not have formed the requisite intent to commit the offence. The specific criminal intent required is that of bringing about a particular consequence at the time of the criminal action. if the accused was so drunk that they could not form a specific intention to bring about particular consequences, then they would have a defence to those crimes which require a specific criminal intention. Examples of those crimes are:

  1. murder

  2. wounding or inflicting GBH with intent

  3. burglary

  4. blackmail

  5. robbery, and

  6. contamination of goods section

In evaluating whether there is a concrete issue

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