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  • Cited by 5
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: September 2011

Chapter Five - Intoxication as a sentencing factor


The criminogenic effect of alcohol is well known; in a significant proportion of offences, particularly those involving violence, the accused was intoxicated at the time of the offence. Should the fact that he or she was drunk be taken into account and, if so, how? There are three possible positions: intoxication could either mitigate or aggravate the ‘deserved’ penalty, or the offender’s lack of sobriety might be immaterial to sentencing.


This chapter explores this common circumstance which has such important consequences for sentencing across offences and jurisdictions. In the conclusion of his book Alcohol and Crime (2006), Dingwall writes:

Given the large number of defendants who raise intoxication as a mitigating factor at the sentencing stage, the paucity both of a guiding approach and of academic attention to the issue is alarming. (p. 170)

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