If a defendant was legally unconscious at the time a crime took place, they will not be found guilty of the crime in many cases. “Legally unconscious” refers to not being able to make conscious decisions. Unconsciousness is typically caused by a blackout, epileptic seizure, or involuntary intoxication, as well as sleepwalking. In cases of intoxication, you must be careful when raising this defense because unconsciousness due to involuntary intoxication is different than trying to use the defense in a voluntary intoxication case. You will not be able to use it as a defense if it was voluntary.
In many states, if you are attempting to use unconsciousness as a defense, you must only present evidence of unconsciousness and the prosecution must make their case based off of this. If they cannot prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, you will not be found guilty of the crime in question. In some states, this is handled differently and the defendant must prove that unconsciousness actually occurred through proof. If unconsciousness was brought on by the defendant choosing to deliberately drink or use drugs, it is not a viable defense.
An example of unconsciousness as a defense is somebody who protected themselves from an attacker after they have been hit in the head. Even though they continued to punch the attacker in the face, they were technically not conscious and “not there” as they made the attack. If the jury believes that the defendant was actually unconscious and did not know that they were assaulting another person due to the blow to the head, they may have a case.
The best way to find out if this defense will work for you is by speaking to an attorney you can trust today. Call us today at The Law Office of Peter Blair for more information on how we can help you.