Public Intoxication

A public intoxication arrest may seem like a minor matter. But in California, it is a misdemeanor charge and can remain on a person’s record forever. An experienced attorney is necessary to make sure what may have been a simple mistake does not turn into something far more serious. A California public intoxication charge is a misdemeanor which surprises many individuals who believe that the arrest will simply go away or be charged as an infraction. Los Angeles public intoxication charges are often also referred to as “drunk in public” charges. A public intoxication charge is found under California Penal Code Section 647 (PC 647(f)). As a misdemeanor, the maximum punishment on the charge is six months in jail. The charge sounds straightforward but there are specific elements that a California prosecutor will have to prove in order for you to be found guilty of this charge.

WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR A PUBLIC INTOXICATION CHARGE TO BE PROVEN?

In order for a defendant to be found guilty of being drunk in public, the prosecutor must show that you are unable to exercise care for yourself or others OR you are interfering with others’ ability to use public streets or sidewalks. In other words, simply being in public and being under the influence of alcohol is not enough for you to be convicted of public intoxication in Los Angeles or Orange County.

EXAMPLES OF DRUNK IN PUBLIC CHARGES

·         A Hermosa Beach defendant is accused of public intoxication in Hermosa Beach after being arrested outside of a bar. The Hermosa Beach Police Department claims that the defendant was found on the ground on the sidewalk outside of the Hermosa Pier. The police report claims that the defendant was so intoxicated that they were unable to care for themselves and the defendant was also obstructing the public sidewalk. In this situation, it is likely that the defendant will be charged with being drunk in public in Hermosa Beach under PC 647(f) in the Torrance Courthouse and will need to retain a Hermosa Beach criminal defense attorney.

·         A Redondo Beach defendant is arrested in Redondo Beach after seen stumbling across an intersection by the Redondo Beach Police Department. The police stop him and make the decision that he is unable to care for himself after his failure to answer basic questions. He is likely to be charges with being drunk in public in Redondo Beach at the Torrance Courthouse and will need to retain a Redondo Beach criminal attorney.

WHAT ARE DEFENSES TO PUBLIC INTOXICATION CHARGES?

Defenses to being drunk in public in the Los Angeles or Orange County are will attack the elements required for a conviction. One defense is that the defendant was not in public. Sometimes an overzealous police officer will arrest an individual for being drunk in public despite the person being on private property. Another defense to a drunk in public charge is that the defendant was not obstructing a public street and was able to care for themselves. This defense can be aided by any audio or video from the arrest as well as any alcohol testing done at the time of the arrest.

WHAT HAPPENS AT A COURT DATE FOR A PUBLIC INTOXICATION CHARGE?

Because a drunk in public charge is a misdemeanor, a drunk in public defense attorney can often appear for you in court and you may not have to miss work or school to come to your court date. It is vital to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney in order to minimize the impact that a 647(f) charge can have on your future. As a former prosecutor in Los Angeles and Orange County and current defense attorney, I have experience with countless public intoxication charges. Contact me today so that I can learn more about your individual case and let me use my experience, education, and skills to fight for you at every step of the way.