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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY                                            401

an extent as would prevent him. from knowing the nature of the act or dis-
tinguishing between right and wrong.

Drunkenness.—The law relating.to drunkenness and criminal respon-
sibility is laid down in the following two sections of the Indian Penal
Code: —

Section 85.—Nothing is an offence which is done by a person, who, at
the time of doing it is, by reason of intoxication, incapable of knowing the
nature of the act or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to
law: provided that the thing which intoxicated him was administered to
him without his knowledge or against his will.

Section 86.—In cases: where an act done is not an offence unless done
with a particular knowledge or intent a person who does the act in a state
of intoxication shall be liable to be dealt with as if he had the same know-
ledge as he would have if he had not been intoxicated, unless the thing
which intoxicated him was administered to him without his knowledge or
against his will.

It   is   evident  from   these   sections  that   drunkenness   caused  by   the
voluntary use of alcohol or some other intoxicating drug is no excuse for the
commission of a crime but insanity produced by drunkenness, voluntary or
otherwise, absolves one from criminal responsibility if it can stand the usual
legal tests applied in the other forms of insanity.   In the case of Reg. v.
Davis51  where the  prisoner was  charged with wounding with intent to
murder, the defence was that the accused was of unsound mind at the time
of the commission of the act and the evidence established the fact that he
was  suffering  from  delirium  tremens   resulting  from   over-indulgence  in
drink.   Stephens, J., in summing up to the jury said " but drunkenness is
one thing and the diseases to which drunkenness leads are different things;
and if a man by drunkenness brings on a state of disease, which causes such
a degree, of madness even for a time, which would have relieved him from
responsibility if it had been caused in any other way, then he would not be
criminally responsible.   In my opinion in such a case the man is a mad man
and is to be treated as such although his madness is temporary.   If you
think there was a distinct disease caused by drinking, but differing from
drunkenness and that by reason thereof he did not know that the act was
wrong, you will find a verdict of not guilty on the ground of insanity "«

In cases where the intention of a person committing a crime is an
ingredient of the crime itself, the fact, of "his being drunk at the time when
the act was committed may be taken into consideration, in considering
whether he formed the intention necessary to constitute the crime. In the
case of Rex v. Beard,52 where the accused was indicted for wilful murder,
it was proved by the prosecution that he had ravished a young girl, and in
aid of the act of rape had placed his hand on her mouth to prevent her from
screaming at the same time pressing her throat with his thumb, causing
death by suffocation. The chief defence was drunkenness, it being con-
tended that when the crime was committed his mind was so affected by drink
that the charge ought to be reduced to manslaughter. It was held by the
House of Lords that the drunkenness was no defence unless it would be
established that Beard at the time of committing the rape was so drunk as
to be incapable of forming the intent to commit it. Death resulted from a
succession of acts—the rape and the act of violence causing suffocagotu
These acts could ndt*b0 fegardect independent" of each/otfrer and as it
not alleged that the prisoner was too drunk to form the intent of
the rape the defence of drunkenness to the charge of murder

51.   1881, 14 Cox C.C. 563.                                                         •          ;  " *"'"'' ;

52.   1920 A.C. 479; Hewellyn Jones, Trans. Me&.-Leg. Safety, Yok•&&!& :pL 1&Jl*
26