If you sign an incriminating statement while under the influence of a controlled substance, can this be used against you in court?

UPDATED: Aug 21, 2011

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If you sign an incriminating statement while under the influence of a controlled substance, can this be used against you in court?

Asked on August 21, 2011 New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you were mentally incompetent at that time--not merely under the influence, but essentially completely unable to appreciate what you were doing, understand its consequences, etc.--then it may be the case that you can get the statement thrown out, and it's worthwhile discussing the issue with a criminal defense attorney. (If you don't have a defense attorney yet, get one NOW, and don't  speak to anyone until you do--remember, you have a right to silence. If you can't afford an attorney, one must be appointed or provided for you upon request.)

Note that the courts are hostile to the idea of letting people off or restricting the evidence against them because of a claim that alcohal or illegal drugs diminished their capacity--in those cases, if you voluntarily took the substances (it wasn't a trick; you weren't forced to take them; etc.), courts usually hold that since you voluntarily put yourself under the influence, you cannot use that to escape the consequences, including any statements you made. Also, if courts allowed this as a defense or way to invalidate statements, every perpetrator would drink, smoke, or shoot up before being arrested. It's worth exploring with an attorney, but be prepared that there is a very good chance that, unless there are exceptional circumstances, the statement will be allowed.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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