Chatham v. State

In Chatham v. State, 92 Ala. 47, 9 So. 607 (1891) a larceny case where there was some testimony that the accused was drunk at the time of the commission of the offense, and in which the accused testified 'he did not remember anything which occurred,' the Supreme Court wrote the following: "'When the offense consists of an act committed with a particular intent, -- when a specific intent is of the essence of the crime, -- drunkenness, as affecting the mental state and condition of the accused, becomes a proper subject to be considered by the jury in deciding the question of intent.... "Although drunkenness, in point of law, constitutes no excuse or justification for crime, still, when the nature and essence of a crime is made by law to depend upon the peculiar state and condition of the criminal's mind at the time, and with reference to the act done, drunkenness, as a matter of fact, affecting such state and condition of the mind, is a proper subject for consideration and inquiry by the jury. The question in such cases is, what is the mental status?" The decided weight of authority sustains the doctrine that evidence of the condition of the accused, though caused by voluntary drunkenness, is receivable, and may be considered by the jury in determining the question of intent. Charges as to this doctrine should, when necessary, be accompanied by such explanatory instructions as will prevent its misapplication by juries.... There being some testimony tending to show that defendant was drunk, he had a right to have the jury pass upon its credibility and sufficiency to prove that he was so drunk as to be incapable of forming the specific intent to steal....' 9 So. at 607, 608.