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Defense Attorneys May Assert Unconventional “Involuntary Intoxication Defense”

Defense attorneys representing Andrew Schmuhl, a former attorney accused of a bizarre home invasion, recently informed the Fairfax County Court judge hearing the case they may intend to use a rarely used “involuntary intoxication” defense. The case stems from a brutal home invasion case in November 2014 when Schmuhl and his wife were arrested by police on suspicion of breaking into home of his former boss, attacking the occupants and torturing them for hours.

According to police reports, the victim opened the door to someone posing as a police officer when suddenly his attacker threw open the door then proceeded to stun him with a Taser. During the attack, the victim was bound and slashed in the throat with a knife (he survived the ordeal).

The victim’s wife was also home at the time. Schmuhl allegedly shot her in the head, with the bullet barely grazing her. Only after being able to activate an emergency alarm did the alleged perpetrators flee the scene.

What is involuntary intoxication?

Defense attorneys in the case plan to argue Schmuhl’s state of mind was heavily influenced by medication he was taking at the time. Media outlets report evidence under scrutiny in the case includes NyQuil bottles, a box of Benadryl, and a pair of bottles believed to contain a mix of gasoline and rubbing alcohol.

The move is a departure from an earlier defense of temporary insanity. Applying an involuntary intoxication defense entails a high threshold for success in many cases. Typically, the defense applies to defendants who do not knowingly consume intoxicating substances.

Examples of involuntary intoxication include situations where someone may have had something slipped into a drink, causing them to behave erratically. Another example would be a pharmacist’s error providing patients with the wrong type of medication.

How do defense attorneys assert involuntary intoxication defenses?

Criminal defense attorneys may claim their client’s state of involuntary intoxication excuses them from criminal charges if the defendant:

  • Could not know what he or she was doing in a state of intoxication;
  • Could not know the difference between right and wrong;
  • Was unable of following the law; and
  • Could not possess the criminal state of mind.

Leesburg criminal defense attorneys

While some may believe the defendant’s assertion of involuntary intoxication to be a long shot, a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney will none the less explore all possible defense options for his or her client. Qualified defense attorneys should examine the entire scope of a case, scrutinize evidence, and conduct a thorough examination of possible legal defenses allowed by state law.

The Leesburg attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC understand the stakes involved in criminal defense cases. Our law firm prides itself on its integrity and professionalism in the face of what may be a dire situation. If you or a loved one face criminal charges, no matter how minor or serious, contact our office for a consultation about your case.

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Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC is located in Leesburg, VA and serves clients in and around Ashburn, Paeonian Springs, Hamilton, Sterling, Lincoln, Waterford, Leesburg, Purcellville, Lovettsville, Middleburg, Philomont, Round Hill, Arcola, Aldie, Dulles, Bluemont, Herndon, Haymarket, Reston, Great Falls, Clarke County, Fairfax County, Fairfax City County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Frederick County, Warren County, Winchester County, Arlington County.

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