In a recent case out of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, a man was convicted of Assault on a Peace Officer. On appeal to the Eighth District Court of Appeals, the man, David Mitchell, argued that the evidence did not support a conviction for assault on a peace officer because the evidence presented failed to show that he acted knowingly.
Facts of the Case
Mitchell lived at home with his father, Joseph. Joseph asked his son to leave the house since Mitchell was intoxicated and combative with family members. Mitchell left, but returned multiple times. Finally, Joseph called the police.
Upon arriving at the home, Mitchell was found to be intoxicated, yelling that he was “King David” and the police were the Romans who killed Jesus. Joseph explained to the officers that Mitchell believed he was King David when he was drunk. The officers asked Mitchell to leave and Mitchell refused.
After Mitchell’s refusal, the officers attempted to arrest Mitchell. Mitchell punched one officer and kicked the other, resulting in the officers using a taser to subdue him. Upon subduing Mitchell, the officers called EMS and their supervisor to the scene. EMS cleared Mitchell and the supervisor found that Mitchell was only intoxicated and not under a mental impairment.
Mitchell was charged with two counts of assault on a peace officer and one count of resisting arrest. He was found guilty of one count of assault on a peace officer. Mitchell appealed the trial court’s decision.
What is Assault on a Peace Officer?
Assault on a peace officer can be found in ORC 2903.13(A), which provides that “no person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to another.” Under section (C)(5), if the victim of the offense is a peace officer, while in the performance of their official duties, assault is a felony of the fourth degree. The key question is whether a person has acted “knowingly.”
What Does “Knowingly” Mean?
Mitchell claimed that because he was intoxicated, the prosecution could not establish the “knowingly” element of the offense of assault. The Court of Appeals, however, disagreed and upheld Mitchell’s conviction for assault on a peace officer. The court found that a person acts knowingly “when he is aware that his conduct will probably cause a certain result or will probably be of a certain nature. A person has knowledge of circumstances when he is aware that such circumstances probably exist.” The court further found that voluntary intoxication does not negate the “knowing” state of mind required for a conviction of assault.
So, what does this mean? If a person is voluntarily intoxicated, that person’s intoxication will not negate the “knowingly” element to a criminal offense. One cannot argue that because they were voluntary drunk, they cannot be guilty. However, what about someone who is not voluntarily intoxicated or had an unforeseeable drug reaction?
In those circumstances, the person could argue that the prosecution cannot establish the “knowingly” element of the offense. Involuntary intoxication can be used to negate the “knowingly” element of an offense. It is a defense when the intoxication serves to negate an element of the crime, but the intoxicating substance must have been taken without knowledge of the intoxicating nature of the substance, such as being taken pursuant to medical advice.
The case is State v. Mitchell, 2015-Ohio-4379.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your criminal offense case.