May 14, 2022

"The highly anticipated decision concerned three separate cases in which men had consumed drugs and then committed violent offenses."

"In one, a man ingested magic mushrooms and then, proclaiming to be doing God’s will, broke into his father’s home, stabbed him to death and grievously wounded his father’s partner. The defendants argued that they had essentially been rendered automatons — incapable of voluntary action or of forming intent to commit the act — and that the law barring such a defense violated their constitutional rights to the presumption of innocence and to life, liberty and security of the person."

From "Suspects can use extreme intoxication as defense, Canadian court says" (WaPo).

"It contravenes virtually all the criminal law principles that the law relies upon to protect the morally innocent,” Justice Nicholas Kasirer wrote for the court. “It enables conviction where the accused acted involuntarily, where the accused did not possess the minimum level of fault required, and where the Crown has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt the essential elements of the offense."

55 comments:

gspencer said...

"The defendants argued that they had essentially been rendered automatons — incapable of voluntary action or of forming intent to commit the act"

Except you voluntary ate the mushrooms* in the first place. But nice try.

*Or licked the frog.

Gahrie said...

So now drug abusers aren't responsible for their crimes?

This will end well.

rhhardin said...

Punish the crime and forget the excuse. Moral fault takes care of itself in the accompanying fog.

What's emanating from your penumbra said...

This doesn't seem like a novel argument. My recollection from crim law class is that, in fact, highly intoxicated individuals often don't satisfy the mens rea, but U.S. law just turns back the clock and asks whether they had the intent to take the drugs, and, if yes, then that's enough. Am I remembering that incorrectly?

Is this decision how we arrive at a society that acts more responsibly?

I wonder how the MeToo movement would view this defense.

tim maguire said...

Except that they chose to enter this “involuntary” condition with the full knowledge that they could and perhaps would do something a normal sane person would not do. If the felony murder rule makes sense, then denying voluntary inebriation as a defence also makes sense.

gilbar said...

this is ONLY Fair!!!
When i imbibe in Demon Rum... I am (Completely Against MY Will), compelled to:
*Engage in Sexual Acts with Sex Workers, and then beat them and rob them
*Drive Very Fast, with my headlights off, on the sidewalks and/or beaches
*Steal more autos, and continue LIVING Grand Theft Auto

It is NOT my decision to do ANY of this! It is the Fault, of Demon RUM!!!

gspencer said...

". . . and that the law barring such a defense violated their constitutional rights to the presumption of innocence and to life, liberty and security of the person."

The Canadian truckers should use that.

M said...

If extreme intoxication can cause people to commit murder than extreme intoxication should be outlawed.

These people chose to ingest these substances. They created the circumstances under which they would commit murder. Therefore they are guilty.

gilbar said...

Henri Daviault. Daviault consumed several beers and most of a bottle of brandy before throwing a 65-year-old women who uses a wheelchair onto a bed and sexually assaulting her. He claimed to have no memory of the attack.


Seriously! This sort of sh*t, Used to Happen to me*, ALL THE TIME**!
My Lawyers said, that it was MY FAULT. It turns out, it was the fault of the bogus country i live in
O Canada! Let me live on your abundant prairies and in your majestic forests!
Let me get Wildly Intoxicated (EVERY WEEKEND); and Rape! and Pillage!! and Murder!!! with impunity

Used to Happen to me* gilbar NEVER sexually assaulted Any woman over the legal age of retirement
All THE TIME** at least, Not Often!

Jamie said...

Well, we can expect to see a whole lot more of this, I guess.

One of my son's best friends was killed by a young driver on New Year's Eve a couple of years ago. The driver was 18; the victim was 21 or so. Both were drunk. The driver was just sentenced this spring - will go to prison for a few years.

It's awful for him, of course. He was not in full control of his actions - he may even have been actually passed out at the wheel. But witnesses say that the victim was also out of control - he was crossing a bridge and came off the sidewalk and into the road, walking - perhaps stumbling - erratically. I wouldn't have known how to mete out anything resembling real justice in this case.

But a young man decided to break the law by drinking - underage - and driving, and a young man is dead. The continuance of civilization requires that a penalty is paid, doesn't it? Even if I feel for the kid who in essence simply made a terrible mistake and, unlike so many, didn't get away with it?

MartyH said...

No more DUI?

Saint Croix said...

Under the logic of the court's opinion, the drugs are to blame for the deaths. So anybody dealing the drugs should face a criminal penalty of the most severe kind.

And if you're not willing to do that, then my conclusion would be that you just don't give a damn about innocent people being killed.

I do think it's relevant, so as evidence it should come in. It goes to motive. And I think it would be proper for the jury to consider it as a mitigating factor. But to conclude that this killer is "innocent" and the drugs made him do bad things is kind of insane. Obviously he had a lot of hostility toward his father and wished him dead. And the drugs just unleashed what he had been holding back.

I'm not a druggie but a lot of people take mushrooms and don't go on murderous rampages. And what's the take-away? "If you want to kill your parents, take mushrooms first." Now you're going to see a huge uptake in people swallowing mushrooms after they kill somebody. (Like the DWI fuckers who run to a bar to swallow some alcohol right after a car wreck).

Michael P said...

If drug use leads to that kind of nonvolitional, and thereby inculpable, violent behavior then the government must strictly ban the use of those drugs. No other conclusion is logical, and drug legalization would be sociopathic.

However, I think this court is wrong: that drug use exaggerates what is already there, but does not remove moral or legal blame for one's actions. This decision is a throwback to the days of treating "reefer madness" as a serious threat.

David Begley said...

No more DUI prosecutions!

R C Belaire said...

Takeaway: Stay out of Canada. No telling where this will lead.

Misinforminimalism said...

I'm sorry, did the drugs do that? No, you did that.

This legal controversy arose a few years ago with sexual assault cases (men claiming they were so drunk they didn't know what they were doing when they raped a woman). Seems to me the common law has this fairly well covered. Intoxication can effectively preclude a finding of mens rea, but allowing it as a defense (or even as a defence), resulting in outright acquittal in this case, is foolish and insufficiently protective of the people.

Owen said...

So these defendants were helpless to avoid getting helpless? I don’t get it: if somebody CHOOSES to drink and then gets behind the wheel and causes mayhem, are they excused because “the drink made them do it”? This defense doesn’t explain how they got stoned: did the drug mysteriously demand to be ingested?

Agency was present at some point in the causal chain. Unless they were dutifully consuming some medicine that had no known mind-raping quality and in their case it exhibited that quality and compelled them to commit the crime, I don’t buy this defense.

Misinforminimalism said...

The theory is "non-mental disorder automatism," the notion that the person is not acting out of volition but rather is controlled by the substances in his body.

Isn't it a bit weird that alcohol or drugs would want him to do these particular (bad) things? If they're the volitional actors, as this theory and ruling would have it, we need to understand what their motives are. Has anyone ever randomly opened doors for people at Macy's due to non-mental order automatism? Written checks to charity? Done their homework when ordinarily they would've blown it off?

If there are substances out there that are intent on taking over our physical actions, a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers, using us to kill and rape and generally cause mayhem, shouldn't we eradicate those substances?

Somehow I don't think Canada has thought this through.

wendybar said...

Actions have consequences...or at least they USED to before Progressives changed everybody into victims.

James K said...

It's only a small step from this to exonerating violent criminals on account of emotional distress, poverty, or living in a "racist" society. They couldn't stop themselves!

gilbar said...

Serious Question
What percentage of violent crime in Canada is committed while in "extreme intoxication" ?
I'm Guessing... MOST

I'll bet the Only Felonies committed in Canada while sober were at the Truckers for Freedom Convoy

robother said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
holdfast said...

Not really surprising since Daviault was from 1994.

Parliament’s attempt to patch it over with a law that went directly contrary to a Supreme Court case wasn’t going to work.

As far as DUI goes, if you are that intoxicated you’re probably going to crash anyway. Remember the scene in wolf of wall street where he takes all the Quaaludes and then drives his Lambo?

holdfast said...

Not really surprising since Daviault was from 1994.

Parliament’s attempt to patch it over with a law that went directly contrary to a Supreme Court case wasn’t going to work.

As far as DUI goes, if you are that intoxicated you’re probably going to crash anyway. Remember the scene in wolf of wall street where he takes all the Quaaludes and then drives his Lambo?

cassandra lite said...

"Sorry I rammed into the van carrying a family of seven when I was going 75 in a 25 zone, killing all of them, but I'd just thrown down a liter of Johnnie Walker and was pretty much blind drunk."

Case dismissed with a warning to try to be more careful next time.

rhhardin said...

Even innocent people convicted wrongly of murder can see that they're taking one for the team. Better that nine guilty go free than one innocent is convicted puts the desired ratio as nine to one.

Christopher B said...

Like What's emanating, even as a non-lawyer I'm not seeing something really unique here, especially from the phrase the law barring such a defense. Per the discussions of how Chauvin was charged for George Floyd's death, this seems to be talking more about making the distinctions between premediated murder and negligent or involuntary manslaughter. A criminal can assert a defense but that's no guarantee the judge or jury is going to accept it.

If the felony murder rule makes sense, then denying voluntary inebriation as a defence also makes sense.

Again, IANAL, but in order for felony murder to apply, doesn't the prosecution have to make at least some showing that a felony was committed even if they don't need a full conviction? As What's emanating suggested, showing that they voluntarily took the drugs or drank the booze should be sufficient.

David Begley said...
No more DUI prosecutions!


The article doesn't mention the specific charges but aren't deaths from DUI usually charged as negligent where specific intent isn't an element of the crime? Also, the law overturned only barred the use of extreme or psychotic intoxication as a defense. The ruling didn't have any effect on other crimes of intoxication. In fact, there's a quote from a women's victims group that praised the ruling as affirming that simple drunkenness is not a defense.

Yancey Ward said...

This is the path to where no one is responsible for their violent acts.

Amadeus 48 said...

It could always be worse. I could move to Canada.

Richard Dolan said...

Democracy has the wonderful tendency of delivering exactly what those who voted for the team in charge deserve. Gooder and harder, as they say.

Bob Boyd said...

I would never have driven drunk if I was sober, your honor.

Bob Boyd said...

It's the "I can't handle my drugs" defense.

Tom T. said...

The message is clear, and deeply perverse: if you're going to drive drunk, make sure to get *really* drunk.

Dude1394 said...

You got stoned and stabbed someone, beat them to death or ran them over with your car.

Do NOT care. Needle.

Stan Smith said...

So the perpetrator's mind didn't commit the crime, the body did. Punish the body and set the mind free!

Richard said...

The devil made me do it!

Michael K said...

With this nonsense and Trudeau's terrorism, maybe its time we invade Canada again. It's hard to be worse than the Biden junta but this is getting too crazy.

Sebastian said...

“It enables conviction where the accused acted involuntarily"

If the accused involuntarily ingested intoxicating drugs, perhaps this makes sense. Otherwise, not so much. If this stands, in Canada and other "civilized" countries, the voluntary destruction of agency should itself incur heavy punishment.

Pillage Idiot said...

If this defense is allowed, then I expect every defendant that is captured (after the time period for evidence of their drugged state to have expired) to argue that they were under the influence of drugs and had no memory of the criminal act.

How could the prosecution possibly prove the opposite beyond a reasonable doubt?

tim maguire said...

In The Brothers Karamazov, there’s a section where they discuss the culpability of a drunk person, making the same essential argument the judges make here. I don’t think Dostoevsky intended for it to be a winning argument.

tim maguire said...

In The Brothers Karamazov, there’s a section where they discuss the culpability of a drunk person, making the same essential argument the judges make here. I don’t think Dostoevsky intended for it to be a winning argument.

tim maguire said...

MartyH said...No more DUI?

If you’re going to drive drunk, you better be really drunk.

Joe Smith said...

I guess I had a get-out-of-jail-free card all during high school and college and didn't know it...

mikee said...

The Snickers defense was discarded a long time ago. Why try reviving it again, when the Chewbacca defense works so much better?

gilbar said...

Christopher B said...
DUI usually charged as negligent where specific intent isn't an element of the crime?

Hell, NO! Not in Iowa, anyway. IF you're drunk and are in an accident that results in a death... Vehicular Homicide is what you're looking at.. ~10-15 YEARS in Prison

The REAL corollary (or conundrum) is that in Iowa (as MOST States), If you have sex with a woman that Consents, well, APPEARS TO consent.. But who is legally drunk..then;
She CAN NOT give her consent.. So it Counts as RAPE! (Like having 'consensual' sex with a 15 year old).

SO!
IF She's Drunk.. It's RAPE!
But (in Canada), if You're really drunk several beers and most of a bottle of brandy
Then... It's NOT RAPE!!!!!!
Canada is a Hell Hole, ran by Demons

gspencer said...

This of course is simply stated the abdication of personal responsibility, an objective of the left.

Tina Trent said...

We routinely minimize our already sub-minimal consequences for all sorts of crimes committed while intoxicated.

I'm very surprised that anyone is surprised by that. It has been 25-30 years since extreme, routine leniency by judges for any reason at all got so bad it had to be addressed by minimal sentencing laws, which were ignored with no consequences and are mostly rescinded now.

Leftist prosecutors are also no new thing, and in countless cases they lowered charges or (mostly) dropped cases because the perpetrator was drunk, or high, or homeless, or had a bad childhood, and so on. So if the judge didn't do it, the prosecutor often did it.

Another scam is the industry built around claims of low IQ or mental illness as excuses for lower sentencing (rather than the reasonable conclusion that such people are more dangerous). Defense attorneys encourage their clients to fail IQ tests every day. I've said this before: my rapist got several years off his third rape sentence for being "borderline" intelligent, then he got several more years off when he miraculously got a "psychology degree" in prison.

Then he went back to raping and killing, mostly old ladies. I can't be the only unfortunate victim of this systemic neglect, right? I'm not: I have binders of them, as it were. And now we have diversion based plans that work no better, and usually worse, than hybrid and prisons-based ones. Which we have always had. And "rehabilitative justice," which has been denounced by its own founder, as victims are bullied or not even included in these pro-offender scams. How could educated people not know this?

Tina Trent said...

Gilbar: of course this varies by jurisdiction and state.

Narayanan said...

Blogger Misinforminimalism said...
The theory is "non-mental disorder automatism," the notion that the person is not acting out of volition but rather is controlled by the substances in his body.
=======
can Canada allow y'all in good ole USA use this ruling to /impeach or invalidate/ the election of Joe Biden by clearly is "non-mental disorder automatism," by 81 million D voters

Lem said...

The decision seems consistent with abortion on demand. We are not responsible for our actions

Jupiter said...

Would it follow, then, that should a Mountie come upon some drug-raddled Canadian in the process of raping and/or murdering one of his fellow Canadians, and stops the proceedings, using a handgun, the Mountie is guilty of murdering an innocent man?

n.n said...

Oh, the lack of privacy, of darkness, of the Twilight fringe. All's fair in sex, drugs, and elective abortion rites.

Robert Cook said...

Having used magic mushrooms 4 or 5 times, I find it almost impossible to believe an otherwise well-balanced person high on mushrooms would murder someone in a state of helpless incapacity of self-will, or that the mushrooms would set a person off into a violent state of mind.

At most, I can accept that a person already disposed to violent actions or murderous rages might feel less inhibited, if high on mushrooms, about acting out his existing violent wishes.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

I'm with Cook... this seems really weird. Shrooms just don't seem to do that. It sounds more like meth or PCP but hardly anyone gets PCP and meth is everywhere.

There are drugs that encourage violence... like alcohol! Is being drunk a defense now?

Tina Trent said...

It's complete!y ordinary to minimize crime due to intoxication or poor upbringing. See for example, the barely most rectent case, Virgil Delano Presnell.