Powell V Texas Brief Essay example

Submitted By camw10
Words: 576
Pages: 3

Cameron Walsh
Chief Randall
Soc 274
9/10/14 Powell v. Texas Powell v. Texas was an important case in determining the interpretation and relevance of the eighth amendment. Powell had been convicted of public intoxication around 100 times since 1949, mainly in Travis County, Texas. In December of 1966 Powell was again arrested and charged with public intoxication which violated Article 477 of the Texas Penal Code. This time his defense counsel appealed the conviction. The case was taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. The defense testified that Powell was a chronic alcoholic which was a mental disease. They also argued that the disease caused him to reach a level of intoxication where he had no control over his actions. The defense also tried to use the eighth amendment saying that the charges were “cruel and unusual punishment.” The defense testimony came from a man named Dr. Wade who was a psychiatrist. Dr. Wade tried to explain alcoholism as a disease from a medical standpoint. He used the debate in the medical world over whether alcohol is a physical addiction or a psychological habit. Dr. Wade argued that a person with an alcohol addiction cannot control a drinking habit and lose self-control because of the disease. Dr. Wade was also inspired by the Robinson v. California case in which the court ruled that it was unconstitutional to convict a defendant based off of them being a drug addict. But in Powell v. Texas the case was not the same because Powell’s conviction had nothing to do with him being an alcoholic. It solely had to do with his intoxication in a public place. The majority ruled that even an alcoholic can control whether they appear drunk in public or not. The elements of Powell’s crime follow along with the elements of “actus reus” and “mens rea.” The guilty deed in Powell’s crime was that he drank and physically went out in public. This action is what led to his arrest. Powell was aware that he was not supposed to be intoxicated in public which led to a guilty mind when he was intoxicated in public. Powell chose to drink that night when he was caught