Citation. 124 N.H. 304,469 A.2d 1332,1983 N.H.
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Brief Fact Summary.
A man named Penn wanted to blackmail the defendant, so he invited a young boy over to his house and drugged him. Penn then invited the defendant to his house, drugged him, and took pictures of the defendant sexually abusing the boy. Defendant’s appeal is based on an improper instruction given to the jury.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Involuntary intoxication does not negate the mens rea necessary to commit a crime.
A man named Penn wanted to blackmail the defendant, so he invited a young boy over to his house and drugged him. Penn then invited the defendant to his house, drugged him, and took pictures of the defendant sexually abusing the young boy. During the trial, the judge instructed the jury it should acquit the defendant only if it found that due to the drug he did not intend to commit an indecent assault, but as long as he had intent, it was irrelevant that he had been drugged.
On appeal, defense counsel argued there was an exception in the law whereby an accused person may be acquitted if there is a possibility his intent arose out of circumstances for which he is not at fault, even though his act was intentional. Defense further argued that a man is not responsible for a condition produced by the fraud of another. In sum, defense contended that if a person is drugged and loses self-control and forms an intent they would not otherwise have formed, the law should exculpate that individual because the fault lies elsewhere. The Court of Appeals found involuntary intoxication negates the necessary mens rea and set aside the appellant’s conviction.
Is the intent necessary to commit sexual assault negated by involuntary intoxication?
No. Judgment of the Court of Appeal is reversed. Lord Mustill delivered the opinion for the House of Lords. Under ordinary circumstances, the respondent’s sexual tendencies may have been kept under control. The ingestion of the drug brought about a temporary change in the mental state of the defendant which lowered his temptation to resist his desires. The drug is said not to have created the desire, but rather to have enabled it to be released. The House of Lords rejects the respondent’s argument which treats the absence of moral fault as sufficient to negate the necessary mental element of the offense. The judgment would imply that this type of defense applies to all offences and is a complete answer to a criminal charge. This defense is also subjective in nature. The only question to be raised by this type of defense is whether a defendant’s inhibitions were overcome by the effect of the drug. The more susceptible the defendant is to the kind of temptation presented, the eas
ier the defense is to establish.
A defendant would only have to provide evidence that he was not the type of individual to perform such an act and suggest that he may have been drugged in order to be exculpated.