Chittum v. Commonwealth

211 Va. 12



Where an individual voluntarily gets drunk, it does not excuse that individual from being convicted of a crime. However, where a party is charged with murder, and it appears that the drunk individual would be too drunk to be capable of deliberating/premeditating, they will only be charged with second-degree murder.


While the defendant was drunk, he forced a couple to drive to a secluded location, and ordered the man out of the car, and forced the woman to lie down at gunpoint. While the defendant attempted to undress, the couple was able to escape, and later identified him as the person who had entered the car. Defendant was then charged with attempted rape and kidnapping. He was later convicted, and an appellate court affirmed the conviction. Defendant appealed the conviction, claiming that the judge should have instructed the jury on the defendant's drunkenness.


Did the lower court err in failing to instruct the jury on the defendant's alleged drunkenness while committing the crime?




In affirming the lower court's finding (and the defendant's convictions), the Court held that there had been sufficient evidence to sustain the attempted rape conviction because: 1) the jury had been justified in concluding that defendant's intent was, by use of the weapon, to force the woman to have intercourse; and 2) defendant's acts, while not the last proximate acts necessary to consummate the crime, had been direct overt acts well calculated to accomplish the intended result. The Court also rejected the contention that because specific intent was a necessary element, defendant's drunkenness, although voluntary, should have been considered in determining whether defendant was capable of forming or entertaining the requisite intent.

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