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Evidence of intoxication can be used as a defence in the following two circumstances:

  1. When the accused person is charged with an offence of specific intent;
  2. When the intoxication of the accused person was not self-induced.

In regard to 1 (above), specific intent offences are those which require the Crown to prove that the accused person possessed a specific intent to bring about a specific result. For example, the charge of wounding or grievous bodily harm with intent include the specific element of intent e.g. to inflict grievous bodily harm. However, it should be noted that evidence of intoxication may not be taken into the accused had resolved before becoming intoxicated to do the relevant conduct, or became intoxicated in order to strengthen his or her resolve to do the relevant conduct.

In regard to 2 (above), a person is not criminally responsible for an offence if the relevant conduct resulted from intoxication that was not self-induced. For example, if the intoxication was involuntary (e.g. drink spiking), or results from fraud, sudden or extraordinary emergency, accident, reasonable mistake, duress or force, or results from the administration of a drug for which a prescription is required in accordance with the prescription of a medical practitioner or dentist, or of a drug for which no prescription is required, administered for the purpose, and in accordance with the dosage level recommended, in the manufacturer’s instructions.

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