If the defendant makes a mistake with regards to damage to property that a normal person who was not under the influence of drinks or drugs would have made, then regardless of the fact that the defendant was intoxicated, the defense of mistaken belief will be made available to the defendant as per s.5(2)(a) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971.
The section and subsection read as follows: –
s.5(2) A person charged with an offence to which this section applies, shall, whether or not he would be treated for the purposes of this Act as having a lawful excuse apart from this subsection, be treated for those purposes as having a lawful excuse—
(a) If at the time of the act or acts alleged to constitute the offence he believed that the person or persons whom he believed to be entitled to consent to the destruction of or damage to the property in question had so consented, or would have so consented to it if he or they had known of the destruction or damage and its circumstances
In Jaggard v Dickinson (1981) the appellant had been out drinking and she came home without any money and was left stranded. She knocked on the door of her friend’s house and there was no answer and believing that her friend would have consented to her breaking into the house under the circumstances, she broke in, when in actual fact the house did not belong to her friend and she’d broken into the wrong house.
It was held that parliament had expressly provided a defense under section 5(2)(a) of the Criminal Damage Act (1971) to cover instances of honest and genuine mistakes and the courts were bound to honor the intentions of parliament.
Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward