Voluntary intoxication: Once again a defense for violent offenses

On June 3rd, 2020, the Ontario Court of Appeal declared section 33.1 of the Criminal Code unconstitutional. Section 33.1 was enacted in 1995 and had been in force in Ontario for 25 years, until the recent R. v. Sullivan decision[1]. This decision dealt jointly with two appeals of striking similarity – that of David Sullivan and Thomas Chan. Both Sullivan and Chan were convicted of violence-based offences after ingesting drugs and subsequently entering a state of alleged automatism. Section 33.1 of the Criminal Code prohibits individuals charged with violence-based offences from using a defence of automatism resulting from self-induced intoxication[2]. Under this provision, defendants cannot use as a defence that they lacked the voluntariness and general intention required by the offence to which they are accused[3]. Furthermore, defendants’ actions that interfere or threaten to interfere with the bodily integrity of another person are deemed, under section 33.1, to “depart markedly… Lire la suite