Parties are meant to be a fun and entertaining experience that often include responsible drinking; however, when the party spills into the public eye the police must intervene. Being charged with public intoxication is not simply being drunk in a public location. Instead, the individual must be intoxicated to the point that he or she is not unable to maintain their safety/safety of others or the person prevents others from using public streets, sidewalks, etc. A drunk in public California misdemeanor ticket is no joking matter as it carries a maximum fine of up to $1000 and a prison sentence up to 6 months in jail.
By definition of the law, if the individual is not doing either of the two aforementioned things than the police officer cannot arrest that person with being drunk in public. Examples of what can lead to a public intoxication charge are: an individual at a bar is clearly drunk and when the bartender refuses to serve another drink the person physically threatens the employee or a person who is clearly high is lying across the sidewalk blocking pedestrians. Clearly, these are examples where the defendant is either jeopardizing the safety of him/other or preventing other people from using a public place.
The maximum penalty for a drunk in public charge under California Penal Code 647 (f) is informal probation, 6 months in county jail, and a $1000 fine. Individuals who have convicted of public intoxication three times in a twelve-month period face a minimum of 90 days in county jail. However, if the person agrees to spend 60 days in an alcohol/drug treatment and rehabilitation program than the court can eliminate the prison sentence. Instead of filing criminal charges, the arresting officer has the authority to place the individual in an inebriation facility or “drunk tank.” Termed as civil protective custody, the individual can be held in the drunk tank for up to 72 hours. If taken to a drunk tank than the prosecutor is not allowed to file charges against the individual for public intoxication. The police, who deem the individual to be easily controlled and not worthy of maximum punishment for a minor offense or mistake often utilize this form of punishment.
If charged with a misdemeanor public intoxication offense, hiring an attorney should be your first priority. While a drunk in public offense might seem to be an innocuous charge it carries significant penalties and a permanent criminal record. Consequently, having the experience of a criminal attorney can be beneficial in fighting your case, as he or she knows the ins and outs of the laws surrounding a drunk in public charge.
One of the most common defenses against public intoxication argued by a criminal attorney is that the location was not public. The definition of a “public place” is a tricky matter that is still being debated; however, if the individual was arrested in a home, hotel room, or other private place than no public intoxication has occurred. Another common defense is that there was insufficient evidence of intoxication. In order to prove a drunk in public offense, the prosecutor most prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual was engaged in activities that meet the definition of public intoxication.
In conclusion, should you find yourself arrested for public intoxication, contact a defense attorney immediately.
About Guest California Criminal Defense Lawyer & Author:
If located in Orange County California and you need a DUI attorney for your case, contact The Law Offices of Christopher J McCann for a free case consultation. You can also follow Chris McCann’s tweets on twitter at @CJM_Law_Firm for related drunk driving law rants or pick up a print copy of my published author DUI book.
If you liked reading this post, please check out my other articles posted here: