What can I do if I was charged for a burglary while I was under heavy medication? 41 Answers as of July 09, 2013

Recently I was admitted into a local hospital with pneumonia high fever and a lot of pain as right lung was full of liquids. I was brought there by ambulance and my live in girlfriend was already there with same (exact same) illness. She had been there for a week and was in ICU with tubes in her right lung. I was put on a lot of pain medications ( a)iv hydromorphone=dilaudid b)15mg hydrocodone c}5mg oxycodone and 2mg xanex (to make me sleep at night). The second night I went to sleep (drug induced) and apparatus I got up wearing only my backless hospital gown underwear and socks walked passed two nurses stations got on an elevator went to basement and began walking through offices and loading a cart with stuff. Then I just left the stuff there and boarded the elevator and went back to my floor and went back to bed and to sleep with no memory of any of it. I'm now being charged with burglary and theft. Do I have a defense? Isn't it the hospitals responsibility to watch patients who are on strong medications?

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Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You may very well indeed have a defense- since you did not know what you were doing and had no intent to commit a crime
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/28/2011
Betts Legal Services
Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
You would have a defense of involuntary intoxication, lack of intent, or simply that you didin't commit the offense, at least as to the theft if you didn't actually take anything.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 9/28/2011
Austin Legal Services, PLC
Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
How do you know you did all that stuff in such specific detail if you have no memory of it? It doesn't even sound like you stole anything from what you described. Have a criminal attorney review the evidence against you in order to give you more specific advise to your situation. Even if the hospital was negligence, that would never absolve you of any criminal liability. At best, you could enact a civil action against them for damages.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/28/2011
Night Life Lawyers
Night Life Lawyers | Joshua Aldabbagh
To answer your question simply, yes you have a strong defense. "Intent" is an element of both crimes you are being charged with; meaning, you must have "intended" to break in and steal things in order to be found guilty of those crimes. There are numerous other defenses that I can see based on the facts you have provided as well. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. My firm provides free consultations, feel free to call.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 9/28/2011
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
You may have a suitable defense to be cleared of the charges. I have never heard of anything like this having happened. You will need to secure counsel to present a proper defense. as it will likely involve expert witnesses to explain how it could have happened.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 9/27/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    You have an excellent defense that of no mens rae.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/24/2013
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    Technically, you do have a defense. Burglary requires a "specific intent" to commit a crime. Your ingestion of the drugs may negate that necessary mental state element. This is a complicated but valid defense.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Iyer Law Office
    Iyer Law Office | V. Iyer
    You always may have a defense. The question is whether the defense is viable and believable to allow the jury to find you no guilty. Were the medications were of such intensity that you had no memory or you were not aware of what you were doing it could negate the mental state requirement that is needed to convict a person of such a crime. You should consult with a criminal defense lawyer. According to the information you did not take the stuff out of the floor from where the stuff was located. If such is a case then there may another defense that you may have lacked intent to deprive the hospital of the use or possession of the stuff. Need more facts to give a clearer answer. Failure of the hospital to properly suervise and monitor patients like you could be an issue in the case. You should consult with a criminal defense lawyer and do not speak with anyone, including hospital staff or investigators or police about this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    You do have a defense. Burglary is a specific intent crime. If you are under medications given to you under doctors orders and this medication impaired your judgment then you have that as a defense. There may be other defenses for you in this incident.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    Burglary is a specific intent crime where one must have the intent to commit the crime in order to be guilty. Intoxication, whether by alcohol or drugs, either voluntary or involuntary can be a defense to the crime charged. There are many factors that must be considered, but this is a starting place for you. You should consult with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    The crimes of burglary and theft both require the prosecution to prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted. If you were under the influence of medication at the time of the alleged offenses, you may be able to establish the defense of lack of intent to commit the crimes. You will need to retain a medical expert to testify regarding the effects of the medication on your ability to form criminal intent under the unique circumstances of your case. My advise is to retain experienced counsel to build the framework of your defense and defend your freedom against this flawed prosecution.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    Very unusual defense. You will need a skilled defense lawyer and some medical experts to present it persuasively.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Yes, you have a viable, potential defense concerning a lack of mens rea, or criminal intent, about which you should promptly discuss with your own criminal defense attorney asap along with all your rights and options.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Offices of James A Bates
    Law Offices of James A Bates | James A Bates
    That is a very good defense. Burglary requires the specific intent to commit a crime inside the place you entered. You were obviously sleep-walking and unable to form such an intent in your mind.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Burdon and Merlitti
    Burdon and Merlitti | Adam Van Ho
    The quick answer is that it appears that you have a defense. Because the burglary and theft statutes require the element of a person act with a specific mental state, a jury or judge would consider if the person acted in conformity with those mental requirements. Based on just the information you provided, the fact that you were heavily medicated would be a major factor that the jury would have to consider in determining if you committed the crimes with which you were charged. As far as the hospital's responsibilities, yes, they have a duty to monitor patients who are under heavy medications and make sure that they do not harm themselves or others at the hospital.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    Intent is required for a burglary. You may have an involuntary intoxication claim. You should get lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Burglary and theft both require a specific intent in order for the crime to have been committed. There is a defense if you were unconscious as to the nature of your acts. For example, certain medications have caused people to do things - from walking to assaults to other acts - while under the influence of the drugs, but without true knowledge and therefore not legal intent of what they were doing. This is something, however, that is far beyond a simple online question. You need to sit down and consult with a local criminal defense attorney - one that routinely practices in the court where your case is pending.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Offices of George Woodworth & Associates
    Law Offices of George Woodworth & Associates | George Woodworth
    Yes, you may indeed have a Defense. While "voluntary intoxication" (using alcohol or drugs) is not a defense to committing a crime, this could be viewed as involuntary intoxication as you were not in control of what kinds and quantities of medicine were used to treat you. In addition, actual burglars rarely go to work in a hospital gown and then leave the loot, and go back empty-handed to bed, without any memory of what happened. You should see an experienced, aggressive Attorney to analyse the police reports and to prepare your best defense.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    Yes, based on the facts you've laid out you have a great case. However, if you've already been charged, I'm guessing the police report reads differently. Either way, sounds like you need to fight the case. Call me if you'd like to discuss the details.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    Of course you have a defense. Burglary requires that you enter a building with the intent to commit a crime. Part of the "entering" would necessarily require you to know you were entering the building. After that you have to form the intent to commit the crime. If you're all doped up, you can't knowingly enter the building nor can you form the intent to commit a crime (or anything else). So heck yeah you have a defense.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Yes, you do have a defense. If you were unconscious at the time (ie. sleep walking), then you have no ability to form criminal intent. Talk to a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    You definitely has a defense, in fact you have one of the best defenses of all. Almost every crime has a mens rea, which means a state of mind that is required. For burglary the state of mind is the intent to commit a felony when you enter a building. You obviously did not have the intent to steal when you entered the hospital, you had the intent to be treated for your illness. The problem with the intent defense is that it is very difficult to prove what a person intends at any given moment. The fact that you received treatment and can prove that you received treatment should help your attorney to show that you did not have the requisite intent. Make sure you contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss your case, they will help you mount your defense.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Yes there is a defense. You have to want to do the crime and involuntary intoxication can negate intent. It was drugs that took away your volition so that you did not make a knowing decision to steal. This is a valid defense. You need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    The Law Office of Cindy Barton
    The Law Office of Cindy Barton | Cindy Barton
    Yes, you do have a defense.Burglary and theft are crimes that the intent of the person is controlling to what happens.You cannot intentionally or knowingly do those things if you are so doped up that you are unaware of what you are doing.This is not the same as choosing to drink alcohol.The law is written to exclude crimes that a person commits whiled under the influence by choice.And yes, the hospital should have been watching you a lot closer.I'm glad you didn't get run over or something.Good Luck
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    I have no idea if you were doped up and decided to rip off the hospital you were sent to or were over-medicated and stole a bunch of stuff while in a drug-induced stupor. I would first need to be retained by you, and then do an investigation into the facts and circumstances of your arrest. I would then advise you as to how to proceed in order to get the best results that are possible in your case.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of Maureen Furlong Baldwin
    Law Office of Maureen Furlong Baldwin | Maureen Furlong Baldwin
    It sounds like you have a good defense. Of course you need the mental state of theft to commit a burglary. Secondly you must enter a house or a room, store, boat, shed, etc with the intent to steal. For the crime of theft, the specific intent rquired is the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. You were sleepwalking at best, and the prosecution witnesses should aslo be your defense witnesses since the hospital administered th drugs and the doctors know what are the effects of those drugs.Both burglary and theft are specific intent crimes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    You would have a defense. Burglary and theft are specific intent crimes which means they require a specific mental component. If you were too drugged to form the requisite intent, then you would have a defense.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    The Law Offices of Correen Ferrentino
    The Law Offices of Correen Ferrentino | Correen Ferrentino
    You may have a defense of unconsciousness. You also have to have the specific intent to commit a theft or felony when you enter the building or interior room where the items were taken from. You need a good attorney to advise you. You should gather records of what medications you where on, what you were being treated for and the reason you were admitted to the hospital.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Anabelle Dias, P.A.
    Anabelle Dias, P.A. | Anabelle Dias
    It appears from your facts that you had no intent to commit any crime. You need to discuss your case with an attorney immediately. Contact the florida bar for referrals or your local Public Defender's office.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    There is a specific intent element to burgalary (you must enter the structure with the specific intent to commit a felony). The specific intent element can be negated by voluntary or involuntary intoxication. If you were intoxicated from the drugs administered to you, you could not form the specific intent necessary in the crime.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    Hire a good lawyer. If you just loaded the cart and abandoned it (and they have no witnesses or other proof that you thought you were about to be caught as the reason you abandoned it), then it sounds like a ridiculous case.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    I would be of the opinion that you have a good defense to the charges, however, a lot of expert testimony will be necessary to establish that you were not in your right state of mind. How did they discover it was you, if you went back to your room and back to bed? An interesting case, to be sure. Retain a good defense attorney to defend you, and you should walk out of court a free man!
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    You have a wonderful defense if what you are telling me is accurate but youneed a damn good lawyer to raise it for you. You should think seriously about getting a civil lawyer to sue the hospital for the lawyer fees you have had to pay to get rid of this idiocy. If you can't afford a lawyer a Public Defender should be able to do the job for you. Good luck. Let me know what happens as this is a fascinating case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    You would be offering a defense of "Diminished Capacity." Basically you would be asserting that you were unable to form criminal intent due to the effects of the pain medications. You are mixing two concepts when you talk about the hospital's liability. The hospital can't be held responsible for what is criminal behavior. Had you fallen out of bead and broken your arm, the hospital may be liable for damages but not crimes.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    Interesting. Theft/burglary is an intentional act. The prosecutor needs to prove intent. You may have a defense, based upon what you have told me.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Law Office of David Baum
    Law Office of David Baum | David M. Baum
    Burglary is a specific intent crime, which means the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you intended to commit a crime. They must also prove breaking and entering the area where the alleged theft took place. You have several viable defenses to the charges.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    Todd Landgren, Professional Law Corp.
    Todd Landgren, Professional Law Corp. | Todd Landgren
    Sounds like defense is UNCONSCIOUSNESS , which is a perfect defense, but usually hard to sell to jury. You would need medical or toxicologist testimony.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/9/2013
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    You definitely have a defense. You must have the intent to commit burglary. However, a DA is not going to listen to you. You need to hire counsel asap and fight this with everything you got.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/27/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    Burglaryy and Theft require proof of intent to commit a crime. You many have a defense of diminished capacity if you can prove you did not have the mental ability to form the necessary criminal intent.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/27/2011
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