Public intoxication, or drunk in public, is outlined in California Penal Code Section 647(f) and is essentially being intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a public place (shopping mall, street, sidewalk, parking lot, bar - any place the public has access to) to the point that you are incapable of exercising care for your own or others' safety, or you obstruct free use of a public space. This is a criminal offense that is typically charged as a misdemeanor by prosecutors.
As trusted Los Angeles public intoxication defense lawyers, our goal is to minimize the damage for those arrested for this offense. We will work to prevent charges being filed in the event you have only been arrested or are under investigation, or fight to secure an acquittal or have charges reduced if you have already been charged. We understand the negative consequences those accused of drunk in public face, which include not only criminal penalties but damage to your future, career, and reputation.Orange County Criminal Defense Firm Fighting for Our Clients Rights
Almost every public intoxication case can be won, but in order to achieve these results it is important to choose a skilled and experienced defense attorney. Prosecutors must prove certain elements in order to have those accused of drunk in public found guilty. In order to be convicted, it must be proven that you:
- Were in a public place;
- Were drunk or under the influence of drugs, or both;
- Were not capable of exercising care for your own or others' safety while in this drunken or intoxicated state.
Disorderly conduct is an alternative theory which exists, and mandates that an individual may be guilty if the use of a public sidewalk, street, or walkway is obstructed or interfered with because of an individual's intoxicated state, whether due to alcohol consumption or drugs.Punishment for Public Intoxication in California
Because it is always charged as a misdemeanor, a conviction for public intoxication is not as serious as being convicted of some other, more serious crimes. However, if found guilty the maximum punishment is up to 180 days (six months) in jail. Even when an individual is intoxicated due to the use of illegal drugs, there is no requirement to register as a drug offender. Still, it is important to fight charges and a conviction for being drunk in public, as you will have a criminal record and the embarrassment is difficult to overcome, particularly for career professionals or those considered to be upstanding members of the community.
In addition, there are cases in which you may be charged with a more serious offense, and your attorney may advise you to "plea down" to public intoxication. For instance, you may be charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance, which would result in harsher penalties if convicted. It may be to your benefit to plead guilty or no contest to public intoxication instead. In these situations, the prosecutor will usually agree to dismiss the more serious charge in exchange for your plea.Contact The Justice Firm Today
Regardless of the seriousness of a crime, it is important to take action to protect your career and reputation; you want to avoid a criminal record, which can impact future employment opportunities and other aspects of your life. At The Justice Firm, our Los Angeles public intoxication attorneys can make a difference in the outcome, whether it means having charges dismissed or reduced, securing a not guilty verdict, or preventing charges being filed initially. Call us today at 310-914-2444.