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Illinois Limits Intoxication as a Criminal Defense

Posted on in Criminal Law

Illinois Limits Voluntary Intoxication as a Criminal DefenseA criminal suspect’s intoxication can be involved in offenses other than driving under the influence. For instance, being intoxicated may cause someone to act violently, which can result in an assault or battery charge. The defendant may argue that he or she was not in control of his or her actions, but Illinois does not recognize intoxication as a legal defense unless it was involuntary. There are criminal charges that require the suspect to have a specific intent, and citing intoxication may help prove that a suspect lacked the awareness to have such an intent.

Recent Case

In the case of People v. Slabon, an Illinois man was convicted of aggravated battery of a nurse and sentenced to 50 months in prison. The defendant appealed the trial court's decision, claiming that the court erred by:

  • Denying him the right to present his intoxication as a defense;
  • Instructing the jury that voluntary intoxication is not a defense; and
  • Not informing the jury of the lesser offense of simple battery.

Police had transported the man to a hospital because he was upset and potentially suicidal following the sudden death of his mother at their home. A nurse attempted to restrain and sedate the man at the hospital. The man allegedly kicked the nurse in the chest, which knocked her into a cabinet. The man claimed that he did not recall kicking the nurse and that his memory of the whole incident was spotty. Test results showed that the man had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.244 and traces of cannabis in his system.

Specific Intent

The appellate court upheld the lower court’s conviction for aggravated battery. In its written opinion, the appellate court reiterated that voluntary intoxication is not a defense for a battery charge. However, it did admit that voluntary intoxication is relevant if a charge requires the suspect to have a specific intent. The man may have been able to reduce his aggravated battery conviction to a simple battery conviction if he had shown that he was unaware that the woman was a nurse. Instead, the man’s testimony suggested that he did know that the woman was a nurse because he:

  • Remembered making rational decisions during the incident;
  • Admitted to thinking of the woman as a nurse; and
  • Was aware that the woman was performing tasks that are typical of a nurse.

Intoxication Defense

There are specific situations in which you can use your intoxication as a valid defense against your criminal charges. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can show how you lacked the specific intent to qualify for a criminal charge because of your intoxication. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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