Public Intoxication Lawyers | Kalispell Office | Serving Bigfork, MT
1830 3rd Ave E, Suite 302, Kalispell, MT 59901
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Charges of public intoxication are generally the result of being obviously drunk on alcohol or under the influence of other drugs while in a public setting, be it on the sidewalk, at the park or elsewhere.
Due to the connection between drugs and alcohol and addiction, public intoxication itself is not always considered to be a criminal offense worthy of charges, but rather an indication that an individual should be diverted toward addiction services or some other form of support group (a medical approach versus a punitive approach).
Public intoxication charges can occur when a person is visibly drunk or under the influence of drugs in public. The specific definition and punishments of public intoxication may vary by state. Depending on the specifics of your case an attorney can explain the charges to you and discuss the various possible defenses to your case.
While public intoxication charges and disorderly conduct charges often appear at the same time, depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense, the two charges are quite different.
Disorderly conduct charges involve an offender who may have been:
Public intoxication, meanwhile, does not always involve outwardly offensive behavior other than the act of being severely intoxicated. For example, if you are passed out on a park bench after a night of drinking, you could potentially be cited for public intoxication. However, if you are arrested after starting a verbal argument with a fellow bar patron and making a scene, you could face both charges depending on the jurisdiction
Public intoxication charges are no laughing matter. Though the charge is usually a misdemeanor, you will want to hire an attorney. A skilled public intoxication attorney can help defend you against these charges.
There is no charge related to public intoxication at the federal level but state laws vary greatly in how it’s treated.
Some states do not consider public intoxication a crime while others prohibit the criminalization of being drunk in public in terms of municipal laws as well. In these states and others like them, if you are found severely intoxicated in public, you are instead taken to a treatment facility. However, some states do consider public intoxication to be a viable category of criminal behavior.
In any state where a public intoxication charge is considered a criminal offense, a conviction can mean a permanent criminal record, making it a serious charge. In most states, the only responses available to remediate a past criminal conviction are expungement, expunction, sealing of the record and in some cases, a full pardon.
In almost all cases, a charge of public intoxication is classified as a misdemeanor. That being said, public intoxication is commonly an “add-on” offense in situations involving assault, battery, rape, sexual assault and other, more serious crimes when drugs or alcohol are involved to a material degree (in jurisdictions allowing for the charge).
Public intoxication is typically classified as either a Class B or Class C misdemeanor.
The fine attached to each charge of public intoxication varies from state to state, but generally ranges from $250 to $1,000.
It is possible to fight a public intoxication charge. As with all criminal charges, it is strongly recommended that you secure adequate legal counsel before proceeding to trial — if a trial is necessary.
Not only can a skilled criminal defense attorney outline the options available to you, but attorney-client privilege protects the discussions you have with your lawyer, giving you the opportunity to divulge all material facts and evidence in support of developing a strategy for your defense.
A criminal record is certainly an undesirable outcome for those facing charges related to public drunkenness or public intoxication, therefore, if you are accused of such offenses you should engage a defense attorney’s services immediately.
Depending on how severe the circumstances surrounding the proceedings of your individual case are, a skilled attorney may be able to negotiate a diversion program, addictions counseling or other, less criminally onerous solutions from a judge (or even the prosecution before taking the case to trial).
In legal practice, experience matters. An experienced attorney will likely have handled issues similar to yours many, many times. Therefore, after listening to your situation, the attorney should have a reasonable idea of the time line for a case like yours and the likely resolution.
Prepare for your consultation by writing down notes of your understanding of the case, jot down questions and concerns for the attorney, and gather your documents. Remember that you are trying to get a sense of whether the attorney has your trust and can help you address your legal issues. Questions should include how the attorney intends to resolve your issue, how many years he/she has been practicing law and specifically practicing in your area, as well as how many cases similar to yours the attorney has handled. It can also be helpful to broach the subject of fees so that you understand the likely cost and structure of your representation by a specific attorney and/or legal team.
Bill by the hour: Many attorneys bill by the hour. How much an attorney bills you per hour will vary based on a number of factors. For instance, an attorney’s hourly fee may fluctuate based on whether that hour is spent representing you in court or doing research on your case. Attorneys in one practice area may bill you more than attorneys in a different practice area.
Contingent fee: Some lawyers will accept payment via contingent fee. In this arrangement, the lawyer receives a percentage of the total monetary recovery if you win your lawsuit. In sum, the lawyer only gets paid if you win. Contingent fee agreements are limited to specific practice areas in civil law.
Flat fee: For “routine” legal work where the attorney generally knows the amount of time and resources necessary to complete the task, he/she may be willing to bill you a flat fee for services performed.
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