Can you be to drunk to murder someone

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by beezel26, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
  2. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
  3. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Whooooooppps! Senate thread. Mods, please edit/delete my august contributions on this topic... [face_blush]
  4. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    Saintheart, this is the senate. Not the JC. You have to be appropriate to the conversation.
  5. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    I know, that's why I'm asking for those posts to go out. For some reason I genuinely mistook it for a JCC thread. Yes, I know they're separate forums...hence [face_blush]. My bad.
  6. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    What opinion should I edit it with, SaIntheart?
  7. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Probably this one ...

    As I'm reading it, bearing in mind this is cod legal advice since I'm not from the same jurisdiction, but basically this argument sounds like a variation on the M'Naghten Rule, which basically says if you lack one of three essential capacities relating to the ability to know right from wrong, you are not generally held criminally responsible for your actions. In short, it looks like an alcohol-soaked version of the insanity defence.

    On a purely logical basis, I can see where the argument is coming from. Murder generally requires intent to kill or reckless indifference to your actions; that's the offence that these clowns seem to have been charged with. If insanity means you cannot form the required intent, then the prosecution has to meet and disprove any argument of insanity that is raised by the defence at trial. (One thing to point out is that people are generally presumed sane. I'll get to that in a minute.) So in this case, if the defence ran the argument at the original trial that these three were so completely blotto that they could not form the required intent, and if the judge did not direct the jury about the requirement to prove that intent, then on the face of it you could argue there has been a miscarriage of justice. The prosecution chooses the charge that the defendant meets. Once they've chosen that, they have to play by the rules that particular charge imposes on their case.

    Having said that, law is at least in part concerned about pragmatism. One example of that pragmatism is that people are generally presumed sane by the legal system, i.e. if you want to show you're crazy you have to present some evidence to that effect. This is an exception to the normal rule that the prosecution has to prove each element of the charge beyond reasonable doubt; to do otherwise would put an unreasonably heavy burden on the prosecution in that it would have to prove every single person that came before the justice system was in their right mind.

    Similarly, while I can't speak of the US system as such, generally you wouldn't get away with this sort of argument in a Westminster jurisdiction: there is a specific defence of intoxication under Australian criminal law, but it requires that you didn't intoxicate yourself in order to take advantage of it, thus eliminating pretty much the entire tranche of cases of the kind the article is being talked about. Again, it's pragmatism: just as ignorance of the criminal law generally isn't an excuse just so every crim in the country doesn't go out proclaiming he didn't know it was a crime to break into peope's houses, that defence eliminates a person drinking himself into a stupor with the intent of eliminating criminal responsibility for his own actions.

    As I think beezel was saying, it comes down to the choice of charge the prosecution uses and the penalty on sentencing. I think those are the more salient issues here. The article isn't in-depth enough to talk about why the prosecution chose a charge of murder rather than something "lesser" such as vehicular homicide or manslaughter; if they were doing it solely because some idiot prosecutor didn't know the difference between the charges and figured murder was as good as manslaughter, then it's the prosecution's blunder, not that of the legal system as such. I would imagine the appeal judge would make that distinction entirely clear on the decision, not that mainstream media cares about that beyond another screaming headline accusing the courts of delivering injustice.

    If, however, the prosecution recklessly went for murder because they didn't think the penalties for manslaughter or vehicular homicide in these circumstances were sufficient, then that, too, is prosecution grandstanding and the place to fix it is in a legislature, not in a court.

    I suspect, though, that these are BS arguments and the appellate judge knows it. The article only tells you so much, but I get the impression these arguments are seriously out on a limb.
  8. Placeholder Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 30, 2013
    star 4
    There is no intent to murder in cases of drunken driven. It is closer to negligence.