I was too drunk (or too high) to know what I was doing. Can we use that as a defense?

This is called a “diminished capacity” defense.  The argument is that you admit you broke the law, but your actions should be excused because your mental functions were impaired so much you didn’t know what you were doing was wrong (“I was so stoned I don’t remember last Wednesday, much less the Taco Bell I robbed and the bad checks I wrote.”)  Please note that diminished capacity is not a medical diagnosis; it is a legal concept.  A doctor might be able to say how impaired you might have been, but only in court will you be found to have “diminished capacity.”

But too bad, Mississippi has rejected the diminished capacity defense.  Mississippi courts have held time and again that only a true “insanity” defense offers any “mental defense” to a crime.  This is from the Mississippi Supreme Court: “[I]f a person, when sober, is capable of distinguishing between right and wrong and voluntarily intoxicates or drugs himself to the extent that he does not know or understand his actions, e.g., steals, robs, or murders, he is responsible and he may be convicted and sentenced for the crime.” Smith v. State, 445 So.2d 227, 231 (Miss.1984).

Mental issues are frequently a part of criminal cases.  Although diminished capacity is not recognized as a defense in Mississippi, there may be other ways that mental issues may be utilized in your defense.  To ensure that these issues are explored and used to their maximum effect in your case, give me a call and we’ll discuss.

If you or a family member have been arrested, or are under investigation  in the state of Mississippi and you need help,  give me a call at 601-991-1099.  If you live outside of Jackson, Mississippi, call my Toll-Free Line at 866-991-1555.

Or you can e-mail me at clarence@guthriefirm.com.