New York Criminal Attorney: NY Criminal Defense – Bukh Law Firm

People v. Cabonce on Intoxication and the Insanity Defense

It was not error for a court to instruct a jury that an insanity defense “might not” be established when a defendant’s insanity was due “primarily” to the use of , the First District Court of Appeal held 1/9/09 in People v. Cabonce(A117286).

(Above: Jack Daniel’s Wildberry Whiskey, a drug that was involved in People v. Cabonce, along with the defendant’s paranoid schizophrenia and other mental health problems.)

The trial court told the jury the following, in response to a question:

1. The defense of legal insanity never can be proved, as a matter of law, when the mental disease or defect is caused only by an addiction to, or an abuse of, intoxicating substances.
2. In some cases the defense of legal insanity might not be proved, based on the weight of the evidence and the facts as the jury finds them, when the mental disease or mental defect, is caused primarily by an addiction to, or an abuse of, intoxicating substances.

The Court of Appeal writes:

The court stated the law correctly. Where the mental disease or defect is caused in part by an addiction or abuse of alcohol, legal insanity may or may not be established (CALJIC No. 4.02), depending on whether the defendant proves that it was his mental disease or defect that caused him to be unable to tell right from wrong. Thus, while the first paragraph of the court’s response informed jurors that if intoxication was the sole cause of the defendant’s mental disease or defect, the insanity defense did not apply as a matter of law, the contested second paragraph told jurors that if intoxication was merely a “primary” cause of the defendant’s mental disease or defect, whether the insanity defense applied was a question of fact for the jurors to resolve based on the evidence, in light of the instructions.