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Can your addiction influence your criminal defense strategy?

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2023 | Drug Charges

There is a strong association between chemical dependents and criminal activity. Individuals struggling with substance abuse disorders may break the law because of their addiction. The act of consuming or obtaining their substance of choice may be a crime in itself, and people often also break the law in their efforts to pay for their addiction.

Maybe you stand accused of an attempted theft crime and acknowledge that your substance abuse issues drove your decision-making. Perhaps you got into a physical fight with someone while under the influence and know that you would never have done the same thing while sober. Criminal intent can be an important consideration in the prosecution of many criminal offenses. Someone has to intend to break the law or to cause harm to another person for a crime to have occurred.

Is an issue with substance abuse potentially a means of eliminating someone’s ability to form criminal intent?

Your choice eliminates the option of an intoxication defense

Texas state statutes specifically address the idea that someone being under the influence of drugs or alcohol may impact their criminal culpability. Texas statutes do not allow for claims of voluntary intoxication to serve as an affirmative defense to criminal charges.

More simply put, someone accused of a crime who chose to drink excessive amounts of alcohol or consume mind-altering substances cannot use their altered chemical state as a means of avoiding responsibility for their actions while under the influence. They accepted those possible bad decisions as the likely consequence of their impairment when they chose to consume the drug in question.

You are responsible for what you do while under the influence of drugs or alcohol unless you can prove that you were not aware that you consumed something that would alter your state of consciousness. Only involuntary intoxication will typically provide grounds for an affirmative defense in Texas.

Chemical dependence could alter the court proceedings

While you can’t just avoid criminal consequences because of a substance abuse issue, you may be able to ask the courts to handle your case differently. Those with substance abuse disorders can sometimes have their cases heard in drug court instead of criminal court, which can help them tackle their addiction. Successful drug court proceedings also help people avoid criminal convictions.

Understanding how substance abuse issues may affect Texas criminal charges can help you plan your response after your recent arrest.