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Voluntary Intoxication Defense - Utah Criminal Attorney

Voluntary intoxication (whether from alcohol or drugs) can form an affirmative defense to criminal charges in Utah under certain limited circumstances. But successfully presenting a defense under voluntary intoxication principles can involve complex legal processes. Having an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer on your side is critical. Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard has defended clients facing charges ranging from aggravated murder to DUI and virtually everything in between. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Elements of a Voluntary Intoxication Defense in Utah

Under Utah criminal law, the key to successfully defending a criminal case using a defense of voluntary intoxication is demonstrating that the person's intoxication negated the required mental state for the alleged crime.  If you can demonstrate that your intoxication negated the required mental state, you may be found not guilty of misdemeanor or felony charges.

For example, if a defendant is so drunk that he mistakes a neighbor's home for his own, voluntary intoxication could form the basis of a defense to certain criminal trespass charges. A typical criminal trespass charge will require proof that the defendant knew his presence in or on another person's property was unlawful. Thus, if a jury is convinced that the defendant was drunk (voluntarily intoxicated) to a point that he mistakenly believed that he was in his own home, the element of "knowing that the person's entry or presence is unlawful" will not be supported by the evidence.

Consider, on the other hand, an assault committed by a defendant who was drunk. Assume that the defendant would never have committed the assault, but for his intoxicated state. A jury may believe that the defendant only committed the assault because he was intoxicated. But you cannot defend against an assault charge at trial by proving that you are a normally peaceful person. A voluntary intoxication defense will likely not apply.

Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

If you have been accused of committing a crime while intoxicated, you need an experienced Utah criminal lawyer on your side. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has represented thousands of clients during his career, and has achieved not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and appellate reversals in some of the most serious criminal charges on the books in Utah.  He has the experience, skill, and determination to help you get the results you need.

If you are facing criminal charges, contact us now to arrange an initial consultation and case analysis. See what an experienced criminal attorney can do for you.


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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