Dreamstime

Is sleep a valid defense to crime?

January 08, 2019 - 3:30 am
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By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Is sleepwalking a valid defense to a crime? 

A Gaithersburg, Maryland man credited his million-dollar lottery win with a dream he had. He woke with a feeling he was going to win big, so he bought the ticket. 

(All I ever dream is that it's the day of the math test and I forgot to study.)

The Maryland man's sleep proved lucky, but what about people for whom sleeping leads to bad things — like people who claim that they were asleep when they committed a crime. 

So, is "I was sleeping" really a defense to a crime? Sometimes. 

A man was acquitted of murder in 2015 after mental health experts convinced the jury that he was not conscious when he committed the crime. For people who have been on Ambien or other drugs that cause movement during sleep, or who suffer from sleep apnea that caused them to fall asleep at the wheel, sleep disorders have been used as a defense in criminal cases. 

But juries don't always buy it, like the case of the man who was convicted of sexual assault after claiming sexsomnia as a defense in November and will shortly be sentenced. 

That said, maybe you should listen to your dreams and just buy lottery tickets — and study for math tests.