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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75914 Find in a Library
Title: Voluntary Intoxication from Phencyclidine - Will It Raise a Reasonable Doubt of the Mental Capacity of a Person Charged With a Crime Requiring Specific Intent or Mental State?
Journal: Journal of Psychedelic Drugs  Volume:12  Issue:3-4  Dated:(July-December 1980)  Pages:331-335
Author(s): R C Baxley
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 5
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: California's evidentiary rules on determination of diminished mental capacity are considered, especially in relation to mental capacity after voluntary intoxication from phencyclidine (PCP), and the use of expert witnesses in determining the defendant's mental capacity at the time of the crime is discussed from the defense lawyer's viewpoint.
Abstract: A review of the literature on PCP reveals that voluntary intoxication by taking this drug can and does impair the mental process in many cases. The doctor testifying as an expert witness in a diminished capacity case must have a basic understanding of the following legal principles: (1) the presumed innocence of the accused and the State burden of proving each element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) proof of the existence of a 'union or joint operation of act and intent, or criminal negligence.' The test of diminished capacity, now adopted by the California courts, holds that, in general, evidence of diminished mental capacity, whether caused by disease, drugs, intoxication, or trauma, may show that the accused did not have a specific intent or the specific mental state which is an element of the charged offense. The expert witness should understand the difference between legal insanity and diminished capacity. Furthermore, it is important that the defense lawyer and the psychiatrist cooperate in presenting the issue of diminished capacity and the defense lawyer should describe the accused's life history in a sympathetic way when using the diminished capacity defense. Five references and a note are included.
Index Term(s): California; Criminal intent; Criminal responsibility; Defense; Expert witnesses; PCP (phencyclidine hydrochloride)
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