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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).
An attorney can often resolve your particular legal issue faster and better than trying to do it alone. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, while avoiding costly mistakes or procedural errors. You should seek out an attorney whose practice focuses on the area of law most relevant to your issue.
The goal of an initial consultation is to find an attorney you are comfortable working with and someone who can help you understand your options under the law. Seek to understand the relevant legal experience the attorney brings to your case. While it is not realistic to expect an attorney to resolve your legal issue during an initial consultation, you should gain a level of comfort with his/her ability to do so. A good consultation can clarify issues, raise pertinent questions and considerations for your case, and help you make an informed decision towards resolving your legal issue.
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