Public intoxication charges, often called being “drunk and disorderly”, is a legal charge alleging that a person is visibly drunk or under the influence of drugs in public. It is usually a misdemeanor crime under state and local law.
If you’ve recently been arrested on a public intoxication charge, you may be weighing your legal options. Before you opt to spend hundreds of dollars to hire a lawyer and fight your charge, you’ll need to consider the circumstances surrounding your arrest. In most jurisdictions, public intoxication charges are regarded as either petty or simple misdemeanors.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Drunk in Public Charge?
Public intoxication laws exist to prevent people from disturbing others in public and to remove people who appear to be unable to stop themselves from hurting themselves or others.
Public Intoxication: Basic Elements of the Criminal Charge
By definition, a public intoxication charge usually has a number of elements, all of which must be met, including:
1. You appear or seem to be;
2. Drunk or intoxicated; and
3. You are in public.
Many states also require prosecutors to prove that you seem so out of control that you don’t appear to be able to take care of yourself, or that you present a threat to the safety of others.
If you walk out of a bar or restaurant appearing tipsy, boisterous, behaving in a lewd manner, or swearing, there is a good chance that you may be stopped by the local police on public intoxication charges.
In many states, public intoxication offenses do not even require that you are drunk to be convicted of the charge. You simply have to appear drunk or high on drugs, even if that’s not the case.
Your behavior and demeanor will be a key component of the charges.
Another key element of any public intoxication charge is that you must actually be in public. What makes a place public? Is it located on government owned property? Is it a private facility where people gather, like a mall or sports stadium, or is it on private property that you own and out-of-view of your neighbors?
There is no single legal definition of a public place. Determining the public or private nature of the place where you received a public intoxication charge is the type of issue that courts examine in public intoxication cases.