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Criminal Practice – Jury Instructions – Voluntary Intoxication – Plain Error Review

Criminal Practice – Jury Instructions – Voluntary Intoxication – Plain Error Review

Defendant relies on self-defense cases to argue that a trial court’s failure to instruct on an affirmative defense is preserved for appellate review even when a defendant fails to request the instruction. However, although self-defense is a substantial and essential feature of the case, the doctrine of voluntary intoxication should be applied with great caution. Since defendant failed to request a jury instruction on voluntary intoxication, we review for plain error.

While it is undoubtedly possible alcohol may have played a role in the rage defendant displayed, the controlled manner in which defendant attacked his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, the multiple times defendant left and returned, and defendant’s threats to kill them, reveal a man consumed with anger who had not lost his capacity to think and plan. Reviewing the evidence on the record, the jury’s quick return of a verdict, and the high threshold for the inclusion of a voluntary intoxication instruction, we conclude a reasonable jury would not have returned a different verdict with the additional instruction.

We find no error in defendant’s conviction of attempted first-degree murder.

State v. Anselmo (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-148-23, 8 pp.) (Fred Gore, J.) Appealed from Pitt County Superior Court (Jeffery Foster, J.) Matthew Baptiste Holloway for the state; Mark Hayes for defendant. North Carolina Court of Appeals (unpublished)

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