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Article
February 1, 1890

A NEW DOCTRINE ABOUT DRUNKENNESS AND RESPONSIBILITY.

JAMA. 1890;XIV(5):169-170. doi:10.1001/jama.1890.02410050025005

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Abstract

Another ancient dogma bids fair to become obsolete; we mean the doctrine asserting the responsibility of the drunken person for the criminal acts done in the condition of drunkenness. It was at least as early as the time of Chief Justice Coke that the legal dictum regarding the double guilt of the inebriate criminal was formulated, to the effect that inebriety always aggravates the offense, and that the penalty should be increased rather than diminished. This view has generally been entirely acceptable to the legal mind, until a recent date, since its tendency was eminently conservative of social and proprietary rights, and pari passu, entirely acceptable to the general public. But now-a-days there is a growing criticism of that theory, and eminent jurists in England and elsewhere have decided that a man may be convicted of an offense committed in drink, and yet be absolved from responsibility; in other words,

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