Diabetes - Type 1 Community
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hypoglycemic amnesia and crime

My son has had type 1 diabetes for 2 years. He was charged with burglary and theft of some insignificant and significant items recently. He says he has no recollection at all of burglarizing.  He found the items that were taken the next day, and could not account for them. He is type 1 diabetic on insulin, and this occured after he drank way too much and way too fast.  He walked out of the bar, and said he couldn't remember anything that happened after that the rest of the night. He is being charged with felonies, yet remembers nothing.  Could you point us in a direction for information that might be helpful to our case.  He has no prior criminal history. We are scared about this.
6 Responses
Avatar universal
Hello.  I would look into the recent case from the San Francisco area with Doug Burns, who is the current Mr Universe and a type 1 diabetic.  He was arrested after he went low and showed the classic symptoms of lows, including confusion and loss of balance.  The police thought he was drunk or on drugs or something, and he was arrested, but was the charges were subsequently dropped once the police and prosecutors understood the conditions related to diabetes.  

Contact your local American Diabetes Association chapter, they have the resources to help you on a local level with issues like this.  I'd also suggest you contact the Children with Diabetes organization, here's the page where you can contact them:


They do advocacy as well as education for legal issues like this.  Good luck.
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for the information and contacts.
Avatar universal
I was a coach, during my time with the team, One of our guys had low blood sugar and was in W.M superstore, He grabbed something to drink and eat and was charged with shoplifting. To the ignorance of the police they did not believe him at the time. He finally had charges dropped, but the general public needs  to kow about these things. whose to say it might help alot of people out. My husband is Type-1, insulin depndt. there is alot to deal with and people need to understand how to deal with it. there is a reason for every action. Most are health related and it goes un-recognized.
Avatar universal
Back to the original issue: your son hopefully has had an awakening of the dangers of type 1 people drinking heavily. Hypoglycemia is a real danger to type 1 diabetics. Most doctors recommend drinking no more than 1 alcoholic drink at a time, for alcohol damages the liver's ability to release emergency sugars if the person gets hypoglycemic. Your son needs to wake up to this reality. Yes, he may have done this because he was hypoglycemic, but since no blood test was done to prove it, one can also assume that he was just drunk and therefore unable to remember his actions. People who are not diabetic do dumb things when they drink heavily, too, and often they cannot remember doing them. So in a court situation, you can probably expect this to be brought up. Your son needs to never put himself in a situation where he loses his ability to think clearly, for this can be life-threatening to a type 1 diabetic. He probably has already realized this, but while we are sympathetic to the fact that when hypo we can do things that we truly are not responsible for, we really should never combine that danger with the danger of being too drunk or stoned to be responsible for our actions. The combination is just too dangerous to us.

I don't mean to judge or preach. I just thought that while on the Forum, this point needs to be made clearly to those who read this thread. The reality is that he may not be able to convince the judge that diabetes had anything to do with his behavior at all since he had been drinking. If he had not been drinking heavily, his case would be much stronger.
Avatar universal
My husband has been in prison for 15 years for 1st degree murder.  He had taked for the first time, meth.  As a result, he did not sleep or eat for 4 and 1/2 days.  That is when he committed the murder.  He had a hypoglycemic demencia attack during the murder.  He says that it was like watching a movie with him in it.  He does not remember much about the crime as he was not in his right mind at the time.  He has been senteneced to 80 years in prison.  He is a NICE guy and is in minimum security.  He is absolutely no threat to society.  If anyone knows of any similar cases, please let me know.  Thanks so much
Avatar universal
My son is 42 and has been a diagnosed Juvenile Diabetic since the age of 19. He has been diagnosed with rapid cycling bi-polar and most recently with a siezure disorder. His life has been filled with a lot of stress, he has smoked on and off, he stopped drinking just over five years ago, he recently qualified for state medical so can now afford to test his blood suagr levels more frequently...point being that his management has been sporadic. He has been experiencing functioning blackouts. They start with the feeling of a very low blood sugar which he trys to fend off by eating something with a high carb content and rapid response. He has "came to" as he puts it in a variety of circumstances having done things he has absolutely no recollection of. He has finally made the wise decision to give up driving. His thought process decision making process is declining (not dangerous but noticeable) His blood pressure is currently generally controlled with medication. His bi-polar is being treated with abilify, which is working better than anything else to date. He had some moderate drug experimentation when he was younger, which was a qualifier for an experimental bi-polar program involving a type of methadone treatment that the state medical is paying for....he is on an extremely low low dose and has been working on getting off the program since a newer doctor thought he might do better with the abilify (which it appears and sounds to me he is). The problem: He has had two back to back incidents that have become legal issues now. His public defender has no understanding of his medical circumstances but is trying. During the course of these events my son spent two days in jail. During one of those stays he had a low blood sugar/ blackout/? and was passed out on the floor of the jail for two hours. The personal were aware of his medical conditon and yet not one person checked his blood sugar levels. My son is terrified of having a problem and going into a diabetic coma and not coming out of it....He is the single parent of a seven year old (autistic) son (whose mother deserted them both). While he has a person who can help them at home, that person would not be in a position to take his son should he die. It is all adding just that much more stress to his life and contributing to irregular blood sugar levels. There are so many issues here.....these are facts, not excuses. Any legal advice that we might bring up to his public defender would be most appreciated by all of us. I saw above someone had mentioned contacting the American Diabetes Assocation. Do any of you thnk that this might be an option for my son? It is so hard for a lot of diabetics. They have to not only deal with their disease, the secondary medical problems too...then society is so quick to judge when they have no understanding of what they are even seeing.
signed: a very frustrated sad fearful broke mother of a juvenile diabetic son
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