Yes, you can be charged with a crime if a police officer sees you under the influence in public. How serious of a charge is public intoxication? What are the ramifications of it, and how can you fight it? Find out all about public intoxication charges in this two-part series.
What Counts as Public Intoxication?
Being drunk in public, also known as public intoxication, falls under the California Penal Code 647(f). Within this part, for a person to get charged with this crime, they must be under the influence of drugs, alcohol, inhaled substances, or any combination of those while in public.
However, just standing on a street corner while drunk won’t net this charge. The person must either be blocking a sidewalk or street or cannot function to protect their own safety or those of others. Therefore, if you are drunk and walk into a street and cause drivers to slam on their brakes and nearly wreck, that could create a public intoxication charge.
What Type of Charge Is Public Intoxication?
This charge is generally classified as a misdemeanor. In many cases, a police officer may take someone they suspect of only being drunk into civil custody, sometimes called the drunk tank, for up to 72 hours of evaluation. While in civil custody, you cannot have charges for public intoxication or other crimes applied.
However, this protection from charges does not apply if police suspect the individual committed a felony or another misdemeanor while intoxicated, had drugs in their system, or will escape.
Can You Have This Charge in Your Home?
If you become intoxicated in a private location, you cannot have police charge you with being drunk in public. This includes being inside your home or another private site. As noted, only being inebriated in public without causing harm to yourself or others or blocking the right-of-ways also cannot bring a charge of public intoxication. A defense lawyer will ask you about the situation and location of the charges to see if you were wrongly charged with a crime and use that information for your defense.
Get Help from Orange County Defense Attorney Steven K. Bloom
Despite the misdemeanor charge, intoxication in public can add to your record. Contact the Law Office of Steven K. Bloom for a consultation on your case. He also specializes in defending people for drug charges and DUI vehicle violations, especially if these compound your case. Having someone to support you through the legal system can make the process less daunting. Let Steven K. Bloom lend his expertise to your case today.