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to think alcohol use should not be a mitigation when a crime is committed?

(35 Posts)
M0nica Tue 20-Aug-19 20:27:13

The papers today reported the court proceedings of the louts who broke into a school and destroyed model railway kits laid out for an exhibition. They did £30,000 of damage.

One of the solicitors for the louts pleaded in mitigation that they had managed to buy and consume a lot of vodka before their rampage and his client would never have done the damage if he had been sober.

This excuse 'I only did it because I was drunk' comes up so often in mitigation pleas. Surely the consumption of alcohol should be an aggravating factor that earns a higher sentence, not excuses a crime.

Get drunk if you want to, but if when drunk you are stupid enough to commit a crime, well that means your sentence is increased by 20%. Getting drunk, is never an excuse for wanton vandalism or violence and the courts should not treat it as such.

Witzend Fri 06-Sep-19 10:20:39

As for alcohol excess in general, personally I think there should be much stiffer penalties for being 'drunk and disorderly' - throwing up/brawling in the street, being aggressive/violent in A & E, etc.

I don't see that much action is usually taken at all. If people thought they could be hit with a hefty fine, they might think twice about drinking so much.

SueDonim Thu 29-Aug-19 12:56:03

I often used to see reports from the Scottish courts where people were treated more leniently because they were drunk. Thank goodness, that mind set has changed now and it is more often seen as an aggravating factor. No one would say a drunken driver who killed someone should be treated more leniently, whether they were an alcoholic or not.

Part of the problem is that it is very hard to define what an alcohol addict actually is. I think in popular terms we think it's someone whose life is out of control but the reality is really quite different. I know an alcoholic who managed to keep it hidden from everyone inc their own family. They were regarded as a 'social' drinker when in fact they secretly drank so much their liver gave out, despite never appearing to be madly drunk, just perhaps a little tipsy now and again. It's very sad.

maddyone Thu 29-Aug-19 12:39:48

Totally agree with you Monica.

Anniebach Thu 29-Aug-19 12:32:28

I agree Sodapop. which is why I disagreed with ‘alcohol brings out the real person’. Not in everyone who drinks.

sodapop Thu 29-Aug-19 12:26:25

I think there are two different issues here. The alcoholic or drug addict who needs help but still should be punished as well as receiving help. Then there are those people who are just stupid or inexperienced and drink for the hell of it then commit a crime. We shouldn't lose sight of the victims in all this.

Anniebach Thu 29-Aug-19 12:18:49

If alcohol brings out the real person then alcohol dependant homeless really have a need to be homeless because they are being their real self.

EllanVannin Thu 29-Aug-19 12:15:47

Not all giggly people fall asleep when drunk, the same as normally timid people remaining timid when drunk. Not True ! I've been surprised in the past at the behaviours of both !
Dutch courage is the phrase that's used, is it not ? Pathetic !!

Beckett Thu 29-Aug-19 11:48:27

Using the excuse that they only did something because they had been drinking is a bogus defence.

In my experience those who are quick to fly off the handle are more likely to be violent when drunk , others who are generally easy going tend to giggle and fall asleep when drunk. So alcohol DOES bring out the real person.

Elegran Thu 29-Aug-19 11:41:50

If it is the first time that the perpetrator has ever drunk alcohol, they have some excuse (but not much of one) for claiming that they didn't know that it could affect them by removing their inhibitions enough to do things they wouldn't have dreamt of when sober.

But only the first time they have tried it, and the first time they have ever been in the company of others who have lost their conscience inhibitions, and they have never seen videos of drunken hooligans or heard stories of what can happen.

annep1 Thu 29-Aug-19 11:18:05

Well it definitely does reduce inhibitions in a lot of people.

Sometimes I think the world would be a better place without alcohol.
It wrecks families and is the cause of so much crime.

M0nica Thu 29-Aug-19 11:03:53

Alcohol does not reveal the 'real' person in anybody. All it does is reduce natural inhibitons in everyone, so that they do and say things that they have the wisdom to keep to themselves when sober.

Anniebach Thu 29-Aug-19 10:59:48

To say alcohol allows the real person to emerge is not true of all who drink.

McGilchrist41 Thu 29-Aug-19 10:58:06

Many criminals take the alcohol to give them the confidence to commit the crime and it is a deliberate act and definitely not an excuse.

annep1 Thu 29-Aug-19 10:55:42

I think the sentence should be hiked for drunkenness but not alcoholism. But treatment should be part of the sentence for alcoholics.

M0nica Thu 29-Aug-19 10:48:53

I see no reason at all why an alcoholic should be treated more leniently than any other person who commits a crime when drunk.

The extra punishment they get may be just the trigger they need to make an effort to break the pattern. In addition an extra period of community service or prison will give thse ble to help them longer to do so.

Nonnie Thu 29-Aug-19 10:23:58

I think Doodle has made a valid point. It has to be different for an addict, they need help. I don't believe anyone chooses to be an addict, they surely all think they can handle it in the first instance. No, I don't understand how it works, I have a very low alcohol threshold so it couldn't happen to me!

Normal drunkenness should of course be punished in a way to make the person learn from their actions.

EllanVannin Thu 29-Aug-19 09:52:14

Yes, annpl, alcoholics are more often than not registered as such.
It's the wanton damage /crimes committed by those who use alcohol as a trigger for their crime who I have no time/sympathy for. They're just yobs, purely and simply.Pests

annep1 Thu 29-Aug-19 09:18:55

People are aware of the effects of alcohol. Sentence should be hiked imo for those under the influence.

Alcoholism is a more difficult issue.

Anniebach Thu 29-Aug-19 08:28:51

Alchol if an addiction does change who you are,

aggie Thu 29-Aug-19 08:20:03

Good point Becket

Willynilly Thu 29-Aug-19 08:18:31

Alcohol is considered both aggravating and mitigating for the purposes of sentencing, depending on the offender, the type of offence and the circumstances of its commission.

Beckett Thu 29-Aug-19 08:16:06

I get annoyed when someone who has committed a crime says they only did it because they were drunk. Alcohol does not change who you are, it merely removes inhibitions which allows the real person to emerge.

MissAdventure Wed 28-Aug-19 23:35:42

My friends ex husband literally fell out of his work van and into a heap on the floor when a policeman stopped him.
His excuse?
"I was drunk".

Doodledog Wed 28-Aug-19 23:20:30

I don't think it should necessarily be a mitigating factor; but I do think that someone with addiction problems should be helped to get over them. Not always instead of punishment, but sometimes as part of them.

In the case of a serious crime, with victims who have been hurt, then the detox should happen in jail (with medical supervision); but if not, then I think a community sentence with compulsory therapy is more appropriate.

From what I understand, a lot of people who go to jail with no addiction problems come out addicted, so it will presumably be worse for those who are already on drugs or alcoholic.

I think that it shouldn't be the case that an addict is given a more lenient sentence than a non-addict committing the same crime; but addiction should be taken into consideration and treated (as far as possible) to prevent recidivism.

rafichagran Tue 20-Aug-19 22:58:38

Agree,not a mitigating factor.