State v. Utter

4 Wash. App. 137, 479 P.2d 946 (1971)



There are two components of every crime. One is objective -- the actus reus; the other subjective -- the mens rea. The actus reus is the culpable act itself, the mens rea is the criminal intent with which one performs the criminal act. However, the mens rea does not encompass the entire mental process of one accused of a crime. There is a certain minimal mental element required in order to establish the actus reus itself. This is the element of volition.


Appellant's son was seen to enter his father's apartment and shortly thereafter the son was seen stumbling in the hallway where he collapsed. Before he died, he had stated that appellant had stabbed him. Appellant testified that on the date of his son's death he began drinking during the morning hours. The trial court convicted appellant of manslaughter. The appelate court affirmed the conviction.


Should appellant’s intoxication negate his criminal responsibility for manslaughter?




The evidence of appellant's intoxication was such that it negated his ability to form criminal intent to murder. However, the intent was not an element of manslaughter. Therefore, the trial court was correct in convicting appellant of manslaughter.

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