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
WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR A PUBLIC INTOXICATION CHARGE TO BE
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.