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The intoxication defence: toward a better understanding of current doctrine and reform

journal contribution
posted on 2015-03-01, 00:00 authored by Kenneth Arenson
This article deals with the contentious issue of the extent to which an intoxicated person, particularly one who has become inebriated of his or her own volition, should be permitted to escape liability on the basis that the degree of inebriation was sufficient to preclude the fact-finder from finding a volitional act or omission on the part of the accused and/or that he or she acted with the required mens rea, if any, as defined by the common law or statutory definition of the offence. In addressing this issue, the article embarks upon a thorough analysis of the House of Lords seminal decision in Director of Public Prosecutions v Majewski (1977) AC 443 which, despite some very harsh criticism of late, continues to be the leading authority on the question in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. As part of this analysis, the article examines and ultimately attempts to resolve the longstanding controversy over what has proved to be the elusive distinction between crimes of basic or general intent and those of specific intent. The article concludes by rejecting the Majewski principles in favour of those enunciated by the High Court of Australia in R v O'Connor (1980) 146 CLR 64; 54 ALJR. In reaching this conclusion, the article notes various legislative and academic proposals for reform as well as statutory reforms in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia.

History

Journal

Australian law journal

Volume

89

Issue

3

Pagination

190 - 204

Publisher

Thomson Reuters

Location

Sydney, N.S.W.

ISSN

0004-9611

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2015, Thomson Reuters

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