A man who stabbed two people with a knife claims he was too drunk to remember what he did. He was later acquitted by Sweden’s Supreme Court, because he was deemed “too intoxicated” to have had the intent required to be convicted of attempted murder.
In the ruling issued on September 16 this year, the court wiped away a ground rule in Swedish criminal law, according to professors in the discipline, Madeleine Leijonhufvud and Suzanne Wennberg. According to them, this ruling now prevents prosecution in many cases.
“It’s about a variety of deeds where the common denominator is that the perpetrator was so drunk or high that he didn’t understand or realize he’s responsible for his actions,” they write in an article in Svenska Dagbladet.
Leijonhufvud and Wennberg believe the Supreme Court has elevated intoxication to an apology. “It would be naïve not to understand that an indicted individual with everything to gain by claiming he was intoxicated or high, won’t also use that excuse. How is the prosecutor going to prove he or she is lying?”
The Supreme Court, and other Swedish courts too, have previously excluded intoxication when interpreting laws and ruling on whether the accused acted with intent. The two professors now believe the ruling that has changed that will lead to a number of future crimes being downgraded. It may, they point out, also mean that crimes committed under intoxication might no longer be viewed as crimes.