Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

He who does wrong when drunk must be punished when sober.


The maxim is originated from Latin language.


This maxim has wider ambit than just being drunk on alcohol. There could be any type of Intoxication. However, for an act to be held a criminal act, the two primary elements are required.

  1. Mens Rea
  2. Actus Rea

In involuntary intoxication, the mens rea and actus rea both are absent, but in voluntary intoxication, the mens rea is absent, but the offender had chosen his state of inebriation and so shall be punished by the law of the court.


A got drunk of his free will and chose to drive home on his own rather than booking a sober driver or hiring a taxi and on his way back runs his car over on pedestrians. He will be convicted of the offence.

Case laws

“In R v Lipman, the defendant, voluntarily consumed LSD, had the illusion of going down to the centre of the earth and was attacked by snakes. In his attempt to resist these reptiles, he gave a blow to the victim (also a drug addict) two blows on the head causing grievous hurt to her brain and shoved some eight inches of bed sheet into her mouth and consequently she died of asphyxia. He claimed to have had no knowledge of what he was doing and had no intention to harm her. His defence of intoxication was rejected at his trial and he was punished of unlawful act manslaughter. His appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed.”

In the case of DPP v. Majewski, Majewski was intoxicated and he made three attempts of assault causing bodily harm and apprehended a constable who was on duty. The judges came to the conclusion that in this case, no particular intention is needed and the defendant was guilty.

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