Public Intoxication Lawyer in Orange County
Whether you’re out with friends celebrating a promotion or just visiting your favorite bar in downtown Santa Ana, you see no issue with having a few drinks and relaxing. However, California has specific “drunk in public” laws that can come into play if you commit disorderly misconduct, such as yelling at pedestrians, starting fights, or wandering into traffic. Most cops hate dealing with drunk offenders and may throw you in jail for a simple misunderstanding.
If you or someone you love has been charged with public intoxication, reach out to our team at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti. We understand that these charges seem minor and you may want to work with the prosecution to get it over with, but that is always a mistake. We can explain your rights, break down how to beat your charges, and fight to protect you from the full consequences of a conviction. Call us today at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to get a free case evaluation.
In California, Penal Code 647(f) is meant to punish people so drunk in public that they can't exercise care for their own safety or the safety of other people. The law isn't meant to punish people having a drink outside; it's specifically punishes people so drunk that they interfere with, obstruct, or prevent other people from using streets, sidewalks, or other public spaces.
To secure a conviction for drunk in public charges, the court will need to prove the following:
- You were willfully under the influence (drunk doesn't mean just alcohol; someone under the influence of drugs or other controlled substances can also face charges)
- While under the influence, you were in a public location
- Your behavior under the influence was a danger to you or other people
- Your behavior interfered with, obstructed, or prevented people from freely using a street, sidewalk, or any other public space
In California, being drunk in public is a misdemeanor offense that comes with the potential for probation in lieu of jail time if this is your first offense. However, depending on the nature of your case and how belligerent you appeared to the police, you may face a maximum sentence. The common penalties include:
- Informal probation
- Maximum 6 months in county jail
- Maximum $1,000 fine
However, a drunk in public conviction can impact your job, education, and relationships. Employers always frown on a worker being charged with a crime, even if the worker hasn’t completed trial yet. Beating these charges doesn’t just mean keeping you out of jail, but also clearing your name and protecting your reputation.
"I was arrested for being drunk in public even though I was just hanging out with my friend. I called Fullerton criminal attorney Michael L. Guisti and told him I was just hanging out and wasn't causing any problems. Mr. Guisti got my case dismissed."
One alternative to being charged with a crime is being placed in protective custody, otherwise known as a drunk tank. When the police bring in an arrestee on a drunk in public charge, they may place the arrestee in protective custody to help them sober up and cool off so that they may go home safely. Protective custody can last up to 72 hours, after which time the police have to release you and cannot charge you with a crime. If you were placed in a drunk tank and the prosecution is still pursuing charges against you, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.
A skilled Orange County defense lawyer will be able to build a defense that gets your drunk in public charges lowered or dropped altogether. Here are the most common defenses used in these cases:
- You weren't in public: if your behavior that led to an arrest happened inside your own home or a hotel room, you weren't in a public place and not guilty of being "drunk in public." The location of where your behavior is alleged to have happened matters a lot in these cases.
- You weren't willfully under the influence: remember, the court has to prove that you WILLFULLY were under the influence; that is, you were drunk by choice. If you didn't know what you were drinking or someone slipped a drug into your drink, you aren't guilty of drunk in public charges.
- Lack of probable cause: don't forget your Constitutional rights. If you were detained without having enough reason for your arrest, a strong Orange County public intoxication defense attorney will be able to get the case dismissed.
Call our Irvine defense lawyers today to discuss your case in a free case evaluation.
- Penal Code 415 - Disturbing the Peace: this offense is related to drunk in public charges because it involves conduct in a public place. These charges are usually related to drunk in public situations that involved fighting, being especially noisy in public, or using offensive words in public to provoke other people.
- Penal Code 148(a)(1) - Resisting Arrest: these charges can be leveled depending on your behavior during a drunk in public arrest. Resisting arrest is charged if you're accused of resisting, obstructing, or delaying a police officer from doing their duties.
After being arrested on a drunk in public charge, you may want to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. The prosecutor may offer a supposedly reduced sentence for a confession or for you not contesting your case. However, it is not uncommon for defendants to take unfair deals just to get out of trouble without fully understanding what they are agreeing to.
No matter how sympathetic the prosecution seems, you should never accept a plea deal without discussing your case with an experienced OC criminal defense attorney. Law Office of Michael L. Guisti has defended many Orange County residents accused of drunk in public charges. We've been able to build strong defenses that get charges lowered or dropped for many clients over the years. Contact us at (714) 881-4152 or (888) 327-0654.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.