Drunk in Public

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If you’ve been arrested for being drunk in public in Newport Beach, Irvine or Fullerton, or just anywhere in Orange County, you need to call the Orange County Public Intoxication Defense Attorneys at Law Offices of Michael L. Guisti right away. Being drunk in public is generally highly subjective to the police officer’s discretion, and simply being drunk in public doesn’t automatically make you guilty of the crime.

They’ve been several cases over the years where people just sitting on the porch of a restaurant, sitting in a friend’s car or even standing outside their own house minding their own business have been arrested on drunk in public charges. Perhaps something like this was the case for you, and that is why you need to call the legal experts at the Orange County Drunk in Public Defense Lawyer at Law Offices of Michael L. Guisti.

Understanding the Charge of Drunk in Public

As the Newport Beach criminal attorney at the Law Offices of Michael L. Guisti explains, the crime of being drunk in public is defined under Penal Code (PC) 647(f) as a person, “Who is found in any public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor […] unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others [and] interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way.”

To prove your guilt under California Jury Instructions, Criminal 16.430 the Orange County prosecutor must show that you were willfully under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and at that time you were under the influence you were in a public place, and unable to exercise care for your own safety and the safety of others, or because of your drunkenness you interfered with, obstructed, or prevented the free use of a sidewalk, street, or other public way.

What is a “Public Place?”

Under the People v. Olson the courts have defined a “public place” as the area outside a home where a stranger is able to walk without challenge that include, malls, parks, public streets and parks, and even restaurants.

Most important to understand, under Olson the courts have held that you could be arrested for being drunk in public even if you’re an front lawn, driveway or front porch of a private residence.

Courts have held under People v. Belanger that a car parked on a public street is considered to be a “public place.” Also, the courts have held under People v. Perez a common hallway in an apartment building is considered a “public place.”

Basically, says the Irvine criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Michael L. Guisti, the courts have defined a “public place” as places open to the general public, like a hospital, school, private businesses, and even amusement parks like Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm.

Bottom line, the definition of a “public place” is very broad and if you’re allegedly drunk in a place where the average person gathers or is able to gather chances are it meets one of the elements of being “drunk in public.”

Care for your Own Safety, Safety of Others and Obstructing a Public Way

The second element of this crime that must be met is that your level of alleged drunkenness must have interfered with, or obstructed, or prevented others from using streets, sidewalks, or other public ways.

The reality is PC 647(f) is designed for people who are completely, out-of-control drunk, because after all people get drunk at bars and restaurants everyday, and since the courts have defined “public space” pretty much anywhere outside of your home that would seemingly make many people who go out drinking a criminal.

Understand, “drunk in public” becomes a crime when you become a safety risk to yourself and/or others, and/or interfering with other people’s right of movement.

So, for example, if you’re bar hopping with your friends on a Saturday night in downtown Fullerton and you and your friends had a few drinks and are now walking down the street minding your own business not causing any problems, you nor your friends shouldn’t be arrested for being “drunk in public.”

However, if you and your friends are walking through downtown Fullerton drunk, and one friend starts yelling incoherently to some stranger, another friend tries to start a fight, and you begin walking in the middle of Harbor Boulevard blocking traffic, police will likely arrest you for being “drunk in public.”

Defending the Charge

As the Fullerton defense attorney at the Law Offices of Michael Guisti explains, they’re several defense options available to you, and just because you’re drunk and might have been in a public place will not always mean you’re guilty of the crime.

You Weren’t in a Public Place

If you were arrested in a hotel room, inside your house, behind your house, or other place no deemed “public” you cannot be charged with being “drunk in public.”

This is why you need to contact an Orange County defense attorney right away, because what is “public” and what is “private” in respect to being “drunk in public” is very complex and even depends on very little details like whether or not your garage door was open at the time of your arrest.

You Weren’t Legally Drunk

Much like DUI laws, police cannot arrest you simply because they “think” you’re drunk, rather they need to perform a test to see if you’re legally drunk. If there was no test, then there isn’t a case against you.

Even if there was a test and you allegedly failed it, California has very strict law how the tests must be performed, and any slight mistake by police can lead to your case being dismissed.

Police Violated Your Rights

As our Newport Beach attorney explains, in investigating “drunk in public” situations it’s somewhat common for police to detain you without witnessing a crime and perform an illegal search and seizure on you.

If they violated your rights chances are highly likely your case will be dismissed.

If Convicted

“Drunk in public” is a misdemeanor and if convicted you face informal probation, up to a $1,000 fine, and possibly up to six months in Orange County jail.

If this is your first offense your Orange County Public Intoxication Defense Lawyer will work to keep you out of jail.

If this is your third "drunk in public" conviction within a twelve-month period, you face a minimum 90-day Orange County jail sentence.

Alternative Sentence

If it seems the odds are against you and it’s likely you’ll be convicted of being “drunk in public,” you Orange County criminal attorney can negotiate with either the Orange County District Attorney’s office or judge to place you in an "informal diversion" program. If you agree to perform community service and/or attend AA meetings and successfully complete those requirements, your case is dismissed and, best of all, this charge doesn’t appear on your criminal record.

Call Law Offices of Michael L. Guisti Right Now!

Maybe you’ve been looking around online seeing if there is a way you can just go talk to the judge yourself, explain your situation how you were really inside your house when you were arrested and hope the judge will either nod at you in agreement. Talking to the judge yourself creates more problems than it solves for you as when you’re speaking to the judge you may accidentally further incriminate yourself.

You need somebody by your side that understands the complexities of the law, so please call the Law Offices of Michael L. Guisti right away. Not only will our legal experts go over and explain the complexities of this charge, but by calling right away before the Orange County District Attorney formally files charges we can not only work with the DA to reduce charges and even arrange for an alternative sentence, but investigate police action leading to your arrest, which could result in your case being dismissed.

Call the Law Offices of Michael L. Guisti right away at 888-478-8999.

If you or your loved one has been arrested or charged with Drunk in public, Drunk driving, DUI, under the influence, selling or buying alcohol to minors, or any alcohol involved charges, it is imperative to consult the Orange County criminal attorney at the Law Offices of Michael L. Guisti. We can help you to deal with these charges because our legal experts know the complexities and loopholes of the law and Orange County court system.

We'll handle your case in the best possible ways to reduce your criminal charges or even sometimes to dismiss your case. We will guide you through the legal process, represent you in and out of court, give you all best possible solutions for your case and will do everything possible to make this complicated time much easier for you.