Matthew Winston Brown v. Her Majesty The Queen

(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right)


Constitutional law - Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Defence of non-mental disorder automatism not available if accused’s state of automatism due to self-induced intoxication pursuant to s. 33.1 of Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 - Whether s. 33.1 infringes ss. 7 or 11(d) of the Charter - If so, whether the infringement justified under s. 1 of the Charter


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The appellant attended a party where he consumed alcohol and magic mushrooms. While intoxicated, he broke into two homes. In the first, he beat the lone occupant with a hard object, causing her serious injuries. In the second, he caused damage to property. At trial, the appellant brought a constitutional challenge to s. 33.1 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, which precluded him from availing himself of the defence of non-mental disorder automatism to the charge of breaking and entering with commission of an aggravated assault. The application judge held that s. 33.1 infringes both ss. 7 and 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and declared s. 33.1 to be of no force or effect. The trial judge accepted expert evidence that the appellant was in a state of automatism at the time of the offences, and acquitted him of all charges. The Crown appealed, and the Court of Appeal for Alberta allowed the appeal, set aside the declaration of invalidity, set aside the acquittal on the charge of breaking and entering with commission of an aggravated assault, and entered a conviction on the lesser and included offence of aggravated assault.

Lower Court Rulings

October 3, 2019
Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

180055626Q1, 2019 ABQB 770
See file
March 5, 2020
Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

180055626Q1, 2020 ABQB 166
See file
July 29, 2021
Court of Appeal of Alberta (Calgary)

2001-0071A, 2021 ABCA 273
Appeal allowed, declaration of invalidity of s. 33.1 of the Criminal Code set aside, acquittal set aside on count 1 and conviction for aggravated assault entered.