The Intoxication Defense in Canada: Why Women Should Care
Elizabeth Sheehy, "The Intoxication Defence in Canada: Why Women Should Care", 23 Contemporary Drug Problems, pp. 595-630 (1996)
36 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2013
Date Written: 1997
This paper examines the impact on women — as victim/witnesses and as accused persons — of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R v. Daviault regarding the defense of intoxication.
Prior to the decision in Daviault, the defense of intoxication was available for only one class of criminal offenses: those described as "specific intent" offenses (defined below). The defense was therefore absolutely barred for all other offenses, including sexual assault, manslaughter and common assault. The effect of Daviault is to make a new defense, that of "extreme intoxication," available for all of these "general intent" offenses. If successful, the defense means that men accused of sexual assault, wife assault, and femicide will be acquitted and not subject to any sanctions.
This paper is divided into three sections. Section I gives an overview of the law of the intoxication defense and the impact of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the law and on the resulting Daviault decision. Section II analyzes the implications of Daviault for women who have been victimized by violent offenders and for women charged with criminal offences. Section III provides a description and an assessment of options for reform of the law after Daviault including those canvassed by the Department of Justice in its recodification project.
Keywords: R v. Daviault, defense of intoxication, specific intent offenses, defense of extreme intoxication, general intent offenses, sexual assault, wife assault, femicide, women victimization, women charged with criminal offences
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