section 33.1(1)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Self-induced intoxication cannot be used as a defense for an offense if the accused departed from the standard of care.

SECTION WORDING

33.1 (1) It is not a defence to an offence referred to in subsection (3) that the accused, by reason of self-induced intoxication, lacked the general intent or the voluntariness required to commit the offence, where the accused departed markedly from the standard of care as described in subsection (2).

EXPLANATION

Section 33.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada is aimed at addressing the issue of voluntary intoxication. The law recognizes that individuals who voluntarily consume drugs or alcohol are solely responsible for the consequences of their actions while under the influence. As such, this section removes the defence of self-induced intoxication for certain offences, including those where the accused lacked the general intent or voluntariness required to commit the crime. However, there are certain qualifications to this provision. Firstly, the accused must have departed markedly from the standard of care as described in section 33.1(2). This means that they must have acted recklessly or with gross negligence, leading to the commission of the offence. Secondly, it only applies to specific offences, mostly those involving violence or threatening behaviour such as assault or sexual assault. The intention of this section is to prevent individuals from using self-induced intoxication as an excuse for their behaviour, especially when it leads to harm or damage to others. By removing the defence of lack of intent or voluntariness, the law emphasizes the personal responsibility of individuals for their actions, and discourages the reckless behaviour that often results from excessive drinking or drug use. Overall, Section 33.1(1) is a necessary provision for maintaining public safety and upholding the principles of justice in Canada's Criminal Code. It reinforces the idea that individuals must fully understand the risks and consequences of their actions, and be held accountable for the harm they cause while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

COMMENTARY

Section 33.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada is an important legal provision that seeks to address a critical issue in criminal law, namely, whether self-induced intoxication can be used as a legal defence in cases where an accused is charged with an offence requiring general intent or voluntariness. The section establishes that self-induced intoxication is not a defence to offences related to general intent or voluntariness for the accused who departs significantly from the standard of care prescribed in subsection (2) of the Criminal Code. The section is essential because it ensures that individuals cannot escape criminal liability merely by claiming that their intoxication prevented them from forming the requisite intent or that they were not in control of their actions. The provision recognizes that individuals have personal responsibility for their actions, and in cases where their voluntary ingestion of drugs or alcohol creates a risk of harm, the law must hold them accountable. The section recognizes that the law must balance the need to hold individuals accountable for their actions with the recognition that self-induced intoxication can impair judgment and reduce an individual's capacity to form the requisite intent or to govern their actions accordingly. However, the section holds that an accused who 'departs markedly' from the standard of care described in subsection (2) will not be entitled to rely on self-induced intoxication as a defence. The section thus establishes a standard of care that individuals must meet, regardless of their state of intoxication. The standard of care is crucial to determine whether an accused departed markedly from it. The requirement ensures that the accused must still be able to exercise reasonable judgment and self-control even while intoxicated. The standard of care requires individuals who have voluntarily consumed intoxicating substances to exercise care in consuming them. This means that individuals must avoid overindulging or mixing intoxicating substances, understanding the risks associated with their actions. The section, by precluding self-induced intoxication from being a defence, ensures that the criminal law cannot be used as a shield for those who cause harm to themselves or others. The law, while recognizing that self-induced intoxication can impair judgment, holds individuals to a standard of care that establishes that personal responsibility does not disappear when individuals choose to engage in voluntary acts that could create a hazard. In conclusion, Section 33.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides an essential legal provision in criminal law. It ensures that individuals who commit crimes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot use self-induced intoxication as a defence where they depart markedly from the standard of care prescribed in the Criminal Code. The section reflects the balance between the recognition of impaired judgment under intoxication and the imperative to hold individuals accountable for their actions while voluntarily intoxicated.

STRATEGY

Section 33.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, also known as the "intoxication defence" provision, states that an accused cannot use self-induced intoxication as a defence if they departed markedly from the standard of care required for the offence. This provision poses some strategic considerations for lawyers defending clients accused of crimes that fall under this section. One strategy for defence lawyers is to argue that the accused did not depart markedly from the standard of care required for the offence. This could involve demonstrating that their intoxication did not impair their ability to understand the nature and consequences of their actions or that they had a reduced level of criminal responsibility due to their mental state. For example, a lawyer could argue that their client's level of intoxication was insufficient to meet the standard required by section 33.1(1), or that their client has a pre-existing mental illness that affected their ability to form the necessary intent. Another strategy may be to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution, wherein the accused pleads guilty to a lesser charge that does not fall under Section 33.1(1). By doing so, the accused may avoid the harsher penalties associated with more severe offences and may also receive a lighter sentence. In some cases, a defence lawyer may argue that the accused was subjected to entrapment, which refers to a situation where law enforcement officials encourage or induce an individual to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. If the defence can demonstrate that the accused would not have committed the offence but for the actions of the law enforcement officials, then they could potentially have a defence to the charge. It is also important to note that the application of section 33.1(1) may depend on the jurisdiction in which the offence occurred. Some provinces and territories have their own legislation that may affect the provision's application and interpretation. A defence lawyer should be familiar with the laws and precedents in the jurisdiction where their client's case is being tried. In conclusion, Section 33.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada poses significant strategic considerations for lawyers defending clients accused of offences falling under this section. These may include arguing that the accused did not depart markedly from the standard of care required, negotiating a plea agreement, arguing entrapment, or taking into account the nuances of the jurisdiction where the offence took place. Ultimately, it is up to the lawyer to craft a defence strategy that is tailored to the specifics of their client's case.

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