Bouchard-Lebrun: Unduly Limiting Toxic Psychosis and Reigniting the Dangerous Intoxication Debate

Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date



Bouchard-Lebrun, Mental Disorder, Extreme Intoxication, Public Protection, Not Criminally Responsible, Voluntary Intoxication, Violent Crimes, Involuntary Action


Bouchard-Lebrun confronts the challenging counter-forces at the confluence of mental disorder and extreme intoxication. The courts must consider the essential criminal law function of the protection of the public, but cannot sacrifice, at least too readily, the principle that "it would be unfair in a democratic society to impose the consequences and stigma of criminal responsibility on an accused who did not voluntarily commit an act that constitutes a criminal offence." In the case of mental disorder, the verdict of not criminally responsible with its special dispositional regime "gives effect to society's interest in ensuring that morally innocent offenders are treated rather than punished, while protecting the public." The public's concern that voluntarily intoxicated accused, particularly those charged with violent crimes, not escape punishment even where their actions may be unintended and involuntary, has produced a complex and, at times, conflicted common law, constitutional and statutory regime.