Can intoxication be a defense to a first degree murder case ? It can be a defense to one element of the case . In most criminal cases , the State of Tennessee must prove the Mens Rea or criminal intent of the defendant’s mind. In a first degree murder case , the state must prove the murder was the result of a premeditated and intentional killing of another .
Tennessee Code Annotated 39-11-503 provides that intoxication is admissible to negate a culpable mental state . It is not an absolute defense , but it could lesson a first degree murder charge down to a lessor included offense . The intoxication defense does not apply if the mental state is reckless.
In investigating a case , it is important if the person was under the influence of something at the time the crime happened.
In a first degree murder case , I tried a couple of years ago in Gallatin , Tennessee . Our defense was twofold . We admitted the client killed the person since there were several eyewitnesses to the murder , but we presented evidence that he was under strong provocation and he was intoxicated to the degree he did not appreciate the the wrongfulness of his conduct. The jury agreed with our theory of the case. In this case , not guilty of first degree murder but guilty of reckless homicide. the defense saved my client a life sentence.
Warning. Be careful using this defense. One must admit to being there or committing the murder for this defense to be effective. You must have one central theme to defending the case .