California law does not prohibit people from being drunk. It does, however, penalize people who are found drunk in public. According to California Penal Code 647(f), a person who is in a public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor is guilty of disorderly conduct. Public intoxication convictions have harsh consequences, so it's important to take these charges seriously. Burga Law Firm PC has successfully defended those accused of being drunk in public. We have obtained many reductions and dismissals of unsubstantiated charges.
What Happens if I'm Charged with Being Drunk in Public?
Police can only charge you with being drunk in public if you meet the following criteria:
- You were willfully under the influence of a controlled substance.
- You were in a space defined as public under the law.
- You were unable to exercise care for your safety or the safety of others.
- You interfered with, obstructed, or prevented the free use of a street, sidewalk, or public place.
Public intoxication in California is a misdemeanor crime. If convicted, you face up to six months in county jail and $1,000 in fines. Drunk in public convictions also appear on criminal records. They can affect your ability to find work or cause you to lose your job.
How Can I Drop Drunk in Public Charges?
Many drunk in public charges are dismissed for failing to meet all of the necessary requirements. Common defenses against drunk in public charges include:
- The location wasn't a public place.
- The intoxication wasn't willful.
- The evidence is insufficient.
In California, the police may place you in civil protective custody, otherwise known as “the drunk tank,” for up to 72 hours. However, they may not charge you with drunk in public if they choose to use this power.
If you've been charged with being drunk in public, it's crucial that you contact a criminal defense attorney right away. A public intoxication attorney can negotiate plea bargains and reduce or dismiss charges.