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Public Intoxication Attorney – Penal Code 647(f) PC

Do I Need To Find A Lawyer For A Public Intoxication Charge?

If you have been charged with public intoxication, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer right away. Public intoxication is known as a public safety violation. The criminal defense attorneys at My Rights Law defend the rights of those accused of public safety violations in California. We’ll vigorously defend you and protect your rights. Contact the public safety violations lawyers at My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 or by filling out our secure contact form for a free consultation if you find yourself facing a public intoxication charge.

California Criminal Defense Lawyer For Public Intoxication

Millions of people get drunk. Let’s face it. Alcohol is a top-selling item amongst consumers, especially during game times or the holidays. Unfortunately, not everyone can drink socially safely. Some people drink too much and become intoxicated. Back in the day, people called it being drunk as a skunk. You might not think much of it. You might shrug and casually ask, “Well, who hasn’t been drunk before?” But being drunk in public and being so in a manner that puts you or others at risk is a serious crime in California. To learn more, keep reading below.

Penal Code 647(f) PC What Is Public Intoxication?

When it comes to this offense, the definition is in its name. The state may charge you with the misdemeanor crime of public intoxication if you’re willfully drunk in public and your intoxication causes you to obstruct public ways, become a hazard to other people’s safety, or if you fail to exercise care for yourself (you’re a threat to your personal safety).[1]

You should know what is meant by the term public.[2] Clearly, you’re in public if you’re on a sidewalk or the street. But what about if you’re enclosed in an area, such as a barbershop? Under California law, the state can find you guilty of public intoxication if you’re drunk in a restaurant, barbershop, mall, park, and so on.[3] In other words, if you’re a drunken danger in an area where the public has access (like the places listed above), you’re in public. If you’re on your front lawn, you’re in public because passersby can easily walk across it and have access to it. On the other hand, if you’re in your backyard, you aren’t in a public place.

Next, a prosecutor must prove that you committed this crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, the prosecutor need not eliminate all possibilities that you’re innocent. Instead, they must only produce an argument against you that’s so strong and convincing that a judge or jury has a firm belief that you’re guilty, based on the facts of the case. Bearing this information in mind, you’ll want to be selective about whom you choose to represent you.

What Are The Penalties For Public Intoxication?

Public intoxication is a misdemeanor crime.[4] It comes with a penalty of up to six months in county jail and a $1000 fine. A judge may also give you up to three years of probation or a combination of jail and a fine. Of course, the penalties increase depending on certain circumstances. For example, if a judge or jury convicts you of this crime three times within a twelve-month period, you must sit in jail for a minimum of 90 days. But bear in mind that, even under this circumstance, a prosecutor may recommend that you attend a 60-day rehabilitative program instead.

What Are Viable Defenses To Public Intoxication?

As we stated earlier, you must be drunk of your own volition. This means that a prosecutor shouldn’t hold you accountable for this offense if someone drugged you or if you were unaware that you were consuming alcohol. For example, if a trusted friend handed you a drink and told you it was soda—only for you to later learn the friend mixed it with alcohol—you didn’t become drunk willingly.[5] Sometimes, people will put drugs or alcohol into a person’s food or drink as a prank of some sort. In cases such as those, it’s unlikely that you’ll be convicted of this offense, especially if you have experienced criminal defense attorneys on your side.

You might be able to raise the argument that, although you were drunk in public, you didn’t do anything that put others in danger or obstructed public walkways.[6] Based on the language of the law, it’s not necessarily a crime to be drunk in public. Think of all the football games or tailgate parties that occur every game season. There are millions of people drunk in public and often on camera, but officers don’t bother arresting them because they aren’t a hazard to themselves or anyone else. If you pass out on a crosswalk, however, or get into a drunken brawl, then you’ll likely be charged.

You may also consider it a defense if you weren’t drunk in public, but instead, in a private residence or backyard. Today, officers can’t charge you with public intoxication if they take you from the privacy of your home and onto, say, your front lawn. California law permits you to be drunk in the privacy of your home because it’s an enclosed area.

To raise other defenses, your lawyer will need to know more about the specifics of your case to help you better. You may be tempted to think, “Oh, it’s just a misdemeanor. What’s the worst that can happen?” Any time spent incarcerated, away from your family and friends, is unfortunate. It’s always in your best interest to consult with compassionate attorneys whenever the state charges you with a crime.

How Can My Rights Law Help You?

My Rights Law is an experienced, knowledgeable public intoxication criminal defense attorney firm. We know that any conviction, including a misdemeanor conviction, can have deleterious effects on your career and overall life. Having a criminal record of being drunk in public not only looks terrible to employers, but it may prevent you from enjoying certain opportunities. After all, convictions have stopped schools from giving their students certain degrees, licenses, and certifications. They can even impact child custody battles or finding a home to rent.

Your lawyers might be able to argue that a rehabilitation program is most suitable for you. Although this might seem inconvenient, it certainly has a more positive impact than a conviction does. It’s less likely to have the debilitating effects convictions do, and it allows you to enjoy most of your civil liberties that incarceration doesn’t. You’ll want trusted attorneys who know how to request a diversion program and who can secure favorable character statements about you to present to a judge.

In short, we fight hard to protect your rights and to safeguard your freedoms. We have decades of criminal defense knowledge in this field working in California. So, for a free consultation, call us today at (888) 702-8882 or fill out our secure form.

Other public safety crimes we defend include: Disturbing The Peace

FOOTNOTES
[1] Refer to CA Penal Code 647.
[2] Refer to People v. Perez, (1976) 64 Cal. App. 3d. 297.
[3] Refer to People v. Belanger, (1966) 243 Cal. App. 2d. 654 at 658, which clarifies that being intoxicated while in a parked car is equivalent to being intoxicated in a public place.
[4] Refer to CA Penal Code 647.
[5] Refer to CALCRIM No. 2966, which emphasizes that prosecutors must prove you were willingly intoxicated.
[6] Refer to In re Application of Deusing, (1918) 178 Cal. 205.

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