While You Were Sleeping or Addicted: A Suggested Expansion of the Automatism Doctrine to Include an Addiction Defense
Emily Grant | 2000 U. Ill. L. Rev.
The automatism doctrine stems from the basic principle that a criminal act must be voluntary. Because an act is considered involun-tary if it occurs while the actor is in a state of unconsciousness, the automatism doctrine provides a defense to crimes committed while sleepwalking. This note takes the position that drug and alcohol ad-dictions result in what should be recognized as a similar lack of vol-untary control.
After discussing general theories behind the automatism doctrine and its relevance to crimes committed while sleepwalking, the author of this note considers current medical theories regarding drug and al-cohol addiction. Because both the medical profession and the Su-preme Court recognize drug and alcohol addiction as a disease, the author argues that addicts should not be punished for committing acts inherently associated with their addictions. She provides several pol-icy justifications for her proposal and concludes that courts should extend the automatism doctrine to include an addiction defense.