State v. Utter

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



Evidence of voluntary intoxication can be presented as a defense to a crime where intent is an element. Furthermore, criminal intent is not an element of manslaughter.


Defendant’s son was seen entering defendant's apartment. Shortly after, he was seen stumbling in the hallway of the apartment building where he collapsed, having been stabbed in the chest. Before he died, he stated that defendant had stabbed him. On the date of his son's death, defendant began drinking during the morning hours. Evidence was introduced regarding defendant's drinking habits, the amount he drank, and the fact that he was an alcoholic. The trial court convicted defendant of manslaughter. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s decision.


Was it error for the trial court to instruct the jury on manslaughter when evidence of defendant's intoxication negated his ability to form criminal intent to murder?




The evidence of defendant'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 submitting manslaughter, and not murder, against defendant.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.