Canada’s highest court has restored the acquittal of a Calgary man who consumed alcohol and magic mushrooms and then violently attacked a woman while in a state of extreme intoxication.
The Supreme Court rendered judgments today for three cases that considered whether people who commit certain violent crimes can use the defence of automatism—a state of extreme intoxication to the point where they lost control of themselves.
Justice Nicholas Kasirer, who wrote the unanimous decision, says the section of the Criminal Code that barred the use of this defence for certain acts is unconstitutional.
Kasirer says the use of the Criminal Code section violated the Charter because a person’s decision to become intoxicated does not mean they intended to commit a violent offence.
The Charter was also violated because an accused could be convicted without the prosecution having to prove the person was willing or meant to commit the act.
The court also says that Parliament may want to enact a law to hold extremely intoxicated people accountable for violent crimes, to protect vulnerable victims, particularly women and children.