State v. Thomas

In State v. Thomas, 109 Wn.2d 222, 743 P.2d 816 (1987), the defendant was charged with felony flight attempting to elude a police vehicle. Id. at 226. Felony flight requires intentional (willful or wanton) behavior. Id. at 227. Thomas had a history of drinking and blackouts, and testified she was drunk and incoherent on the night of the incident, and had no memory of eluding police or even of police cars following her car. Id. at 225. The defense theory of the case was that the defendant was too intoxicated to form the requisite intent; however, she did not request the diminished capacity instruction and the instructions given did not make the subjectivity of the required intent clear. Id. at 227-28. This Court found the jury instructions defective because they allowed the jury to conclude mere intoxication satisfied the willful behavior element, without any further inquiry to the defendant's actual subjective intent to flee. Id. at 229. The failure of the attorney to propose the diminished capacity instruction under the facts presented was therefore deficient and deprived Thomas of a fair trial. The conviction was reversed and the case remanded for a new trial. Id. at 232.