United States v. Moore
486 F.2d 1139 (1973)

  • Moore was a heroin addict. He was arrested and charged with drug possession and drug trafficking.
  • At trial, Moore admitted that he was a drug addict. He argued that his drug addiction was an overpowering compulsion which made him not responsible for his being in possession of drugs.
    • Basically, Moore was arguing a form of the insanity defense. He claimed he had a ‘disease of the mind’ that made him unable to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.
      • “The common-law has long held that the capacity to control behavior is a prerequisite for criminal responsibility.”
  • The Trial Court convicted Moore of drug possession and drug trafficking. He appealed.
    • Moore argued that he wasn’t a drug trafficker, and that a non-trafficking addict could not be convicted under the current drug Statutes.
  • The Appellate Court upheld the conviction.
    • The Appellate Court found that even though a drug addiction can make a person desperate and lose self-control, it doesn’t make them lose free will, and so they are still capable of being criminally culpable.
      • The Court asked whether bank robbers should be excused of their crimes if they were really desperate for money?
    • The Court found that it would be bad public policy to excuse people from criminal culpability because they were desperate.
  • In a dissent it was argued that criminal punishment serves the goals of retribution, deterrence, isolation, and rehabilitation. However, punishing people for being an addict would not serve any of those goals, so what is the point?