The Supreme Court of Canada has clarified under which grounds an accused can use a defense of being in a psychotic state. Quebec resident Tommy Bouchard-Lebrun committed a vicious assault in October of 2005, in Mont-Joli, Quebec. Bouchard-Lebrun then claimed he was in a psychotic state after voluntarily taking drugs
Bouchard-Lebrun pushed a man down some stairs, and stomped on his head several times. Bouchard-Lebrun argued that he had an underlying mental disorder that was triggered by the drug use, and therefore should be found not criminally responsible for the attack. A Quebec court found that whatever psychosis gripped Bouchard-Lebrun during the incident, it was “self-induced intoxication” and could not be used as an excuse for his actions.
On appeal, Bouchard-Lebrun argued the “self-induced intoxication” amounted to a “mental disorder” under the Criminal Code, but the Quebec Court of Appeal rejected his argument. It said in its 2010 ruling that the defense of mental disorder was not available to an accused suffering from psychosis induced by drug use in circumstances similar to those in Bouchard-Lebrun’s case.
Now the Supreme Court has dismissed the argument, saying Bouchard-Lebrun could not establish that he was suffering from an underlying mental disorder, since he returned to normal once the effects of the drugs ran their course. The court concluded:
“A malfunctioning of the mind that results exclusively from self-induced intoxication cannot be considered a disease of the mind in the legal sense, since it is not a product of the individual’s inherent psychological makeup,”
If everyone who committed a violent offense while in a toxic psychosis was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, the judge said the scope of the defense would be too broad.