You had way too much to drink at the bar. Later, you were told you broke some other guy’s ribs in a fight. You are now charged with battery.

Does it matter you were too drunk to know what you were doing?

In Illinois, voluntary intoxication is not a defense. You are still criminally responsible for your conduct. However, some criminal charges require the state to prove a specific mental intent. Your intoxication or drugged state could make such intent harder to prove. Illinois courts have held that a defendant is incapable of forming a specific intent or malice where intoxication is so extreme as to suspend all reasoning.

Involuntary intoxication is another matter. Intoxication may be a defense if someone spiked your drink so that you were deprived of the substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of your conduct or to conform your conduct to the requirements of law.

Some Illinois courts consider battery a specific intent crime. In that case, your intoxication may help your defense. However, the court could infer your mental intent from other circumstances in your case. For example, the court in People v Slabon upheld a verdict of aggravated battery where defendant’s behavior at the scene indicated he was aware of his surroundings and knew what he was doing in spite of his intoxication.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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