Definition and Aspects of Public Intoxication:
The legal drinking age in the United States is twenty-one; however, there are still certain situations where a person of age could get into trouble for consuming alcohol. Public Intoxication, under California Penal Code Section 647(f) (PC 647(f)), is a misdemeanor offense, punishable with jail time, severe fines, and even mandatory rehabilitation stays in some instances.
Public Intoxication is often referred to as ‘drunk in public’ and covers a wide array of behavior. This statute was created to prevent an intoxicated person from his/her own clouded judgment, while keeping the other members of the public from the potential dangers.
To be convicted of California Penal Code Section 647(f) (PC 647(f)), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant was willfully under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both while in a public place, while:
- The Defendant was unable to exercise care for his/her own safety, or the safety of others
- OR due to Intoxication, the Defendant prevented, interfered with, or obstructed the free use of a public place
For the purposes of this statute, the use of a public place is referring to a place open to and accessible to anyone. Such places include but are not limited to roads, sidewalks, streets, or a public park.
Criminal Offenses Related to Public Intoxication:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code Section 647(f) (PC 647(f)), Public Intoxication or Drunk in Public:
- Driving Under the Influence – California Vehicle Code 23152(a) (VC 23152(a))
- Disturbing the Peace – California Penal Code 415 (PC 415)
- Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance – California Health and Safety Code 11550 (HSC 11550)
Examples of Public Intoxication:
During a live sports event, fans are often enjoying the game with the help of alcohol. After a few beers, when a man’s favored team loses, he gets into an argument with a fan of the winning team. The altercation ends in a fistfight. Because the man was clearly under the influence of alcohol, and due to his Intoxication, his behavior endangered the safety of others around him, he could be charged with California Penal Code 647(f) (PC 647(f)).
A woman goes to a club with her friends, where she consumes a considerable amount of alcohol. While she’s walking to another bar, she passes out on the sidewalk due to intoxication. Under California Penal Code 647(f) (PC 647(f)), she could be charged with being drunk in public, as she is blocking the sidewalk from the use of the other pedestrians.
Defenses for Public Intoxication:
One of the requirements for Public Intoxication is that the events have to take place in a public space. If the drunken disorderly behavior happened in a private home, hotel room, or another space that would not be considered public, the Defendant should not be charged with California Penal Code 647(f) (PC 647(f)). It is worth to note though, that some seemingly private places, such as a private automobile parked in a public street, are considered a public space.
Another defense questions the events of how the Defendant ended up losing control. If he/she was slipped something or was served a drink he/she believed to be non-alcoholic and ended up intoxicated on accident, the case could be dismissed. California Penal Code 647(f) (PC 647(f)) requires that the Defendant willfully and knowingly consumed alcohol, drugs, or both. In this scenario, the disorderly behavior would be excusable, and the case should be dropped.
Lastly, if there was no obstruction or interference with the safety of others, the case could be dismissed. In order to be convicted of California Penal Code 647(f) (PC 647(f)), the Prosecution has to prove that the Defendant inconvenienced the public in some way or put others in danger. If the Defendant was simply under the influence but did not bother anyone, the arresting officers would arguably have no grounds to proceed with the arrest.
Consequences and Penalty for Public Intoxication:
Public Intoxication, or Drunk in Public, is a misdemeanor offense. Violation of California Penal Code 647(f) (PC 647(f)) is punishable with up to six months in county jail and up to $1,000 in court fines. However, if the Defendant is convicted of three public intoxication violations within a 12-month span, he/she will be sentenced to 90 days in jail after the last violation.
In certain cases, an experienced Defense Attorney can aid a Defendant in receiving a 60-day alcohol treatment center stay in lieu of a jail sentence. Additionally, summary probation might be available for the convicted person, depending on the details of the incident. The Court also may offer community service in lieu of court fines.
Public Intoxication or being drunk in public, under California Penal Code Section 647(f) (PC 647(f)), is a misdemeanor offense that can result in jail time, severe fines, and other serious terms. It is essential that if you or someone you know is charged with Public Intoxication, you contact an expert attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of intoxication-related cases and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 647(f) (PC 647(f)), Public Intoxication. Book a free consultation today.