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Could pot-fueled hallucinations affect Colorado domestic case?

With marijuana sales now legal across the state of Colorado, criminal courts may have some new questions to ask and answer about how to treat cases arising from the use of the substance. Could the voluntary consumption of legal marijuana and resulting intoxication be used as a mitigating or aggravating factor in a case? What about in a case involving a first-degree murder charge?

In April, 911 dispatchers were able to record a domestic violence incident in which a man had shot and killed his wife while under the influence of marijuana. Throughout the 13-minute phone call, the wife had described the increasing severity of the man’s hallucinations and the events as they unfolded.

Police investigations determined that prior to the incident the man had likely ingested candy that had been infused with marijuana and “possibly some prescription medication for back pain,” as was reported in the call. Then, the man had become agitated and began “talking like it was the end of the world,” said his wife on the phone.

The fact that the couple’s children were also in the home at the time gave the woman even greater concern. The wife said that her husband’s hallucinations were so severe that he had even asked her to go get the gun that was in the house and shoot him. It was unclear what led the husband to gain control over the gun, but eventually he pulled the trigger and the bullet struck his wife.

The man in this case was charged with first-degree murder, but answering the question “Is he guilty?” is not a simple yes or no. Being charged with a crime, no matter what the circumstances may be, can seem like an impossible situation. Before making any decisions, an individual should take their concerns to a criminal defense attorney that can give each case the attention it deserves.

Source: News Net 5, “911 dispatcher quits over handling of call that ended in shooting death of Denver mother,” Alan Gathright, June 9, 2014

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