People v. Hood
1 Cal.3d 444, 462 P.2d 370 (1969)

  • Hood was drunk. The police came to arrest him and he fought back. He ended up taking one policeman’s gun and shooting him with it.
  • Hood was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
  • The Trial Judge gave confusing instruction to the jury about how they should take Hood’s intoxication into account.
  • The Trial Court convicted Hood of assault. He appealed.
  • The Appellate Court upheld the conviction. Hood appealed.
  • The California Supreme Court reversed and remanded for retrial.
    • The California Supreme Court found that intoxication is to be considered a factor for specific intent crimes, but not to be considered as a factor for general intent crimes.
    • In this case, since Hood was charged with assault with a deadly weapon (a general intent crime), the case should be retried and the jury instructed not to take Hood’s intoxication into consideration.
      • The Court noted that if Hood was charged with a specific intent crime (such as assault with intent to kill), then his intoxication could be considered as a factor.
  • Later California adopted Cal. Penal Code §22(b), which says, “evidence or voluntary intoxication is admissible solely on the issue of whether or not the defendant actually formed the specific intent.”
  • Although the distinctions between specific intent and general intent crimes are pretty vague, the general rule is that if the crime involves a simple action (such as basic assault), then intoxication is not to be considered because even a drunk guy is capable of intending to punch someone. But if it is a complex action that requires premeditation or forethought of consequences (such as assault with the intent to kill), then intoxication can be considered because a drunk guy is less likely to be able to consider the consequences of his actions.
    • See Model Penal Code §2.08.