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Tom Rees | Criminal Defence Lawyer Winnipeg
7
Jun

Self Induced Intoxication is Not a Defence to Arson

 

The newest Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decision is clear, intoxication is not a defence to arson.

The accused, while in a highly intoxicated state, put a pot of oil on the stove and then left for coffee. When he returned, the house was on fire. He was charged with arson. The accused’s criminal lawyer raised the defence of intoxication saying that he didn’t have the requisite intent to be guilty of arson.

The SCC clarified that arson is a general intent offence and self induced intoxication, short of automatism, is therefore not a defence.

[48]    The actus reus is the damaging of property by fire. The mental element is the intentional or reckless performance of the illegal act — the causing of damage to property. No additional knowledge or purpose is needed. No complex thought or reasoning processes are required. On its face, the level of intent required for the offence would appear to be minimal.

(R. v. Tatton, 2015 SCC 33)

There are three levels of legal intoxication in Canada. The highest level of intoxication is called extreme intoxication, and is generally a defence to criminal offences. The middle level of intoxication is called advanced intoxication, and is usually a defence to specific intent offences. The lowest level of intoxication is not a defence to any offence.

Self induced intoxication is not a defence to arson. The SCC has clarified that arson is a general intent offence, so advanced intoxication is not enough.

 

*note: the information on this page is not legal advice

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