Drunk in Public


There is no harm in having one or two drinks from time to time. In fact, it is not illegal to be drunk. However, a law exists prohibiting being drunk in public, which is more concerned not with a person’s drunken state, but more about the effect on the general public. Unfortunately, if you were intoxicated at the time of arrest, you may not be able to remember the details that will be critical to your case. If you are charged with being drunk in public, it is important that you hire a San Diego college crimes lawyer immediately.

What Is Drunk In Public?

Though the common meaning of the words seems to suggest that the mere fact of being drunk in a public place will be sufficient to constitute the offense, this is not the case. In order for the police to arrest you for this type of conduct, the following must be present:

  • Displaying an inability to exercise care in relation to your or others’ safety; or
  • You are causing some interference with the general public and their use of public space.

Even if you are severely inebriated, if none of the above elements are present, you cannot be charged for being drunk in public. Nevertheless, if you find yourself on the wrong side of the law after a night of fun drinking with friends, you should know that the charge of being drunk in public is a misdemeanor under California law.

Can I Go To Jail For Being Drunk in Public?

Laws surrounding the activity of drinking is generally designed to protect the offenders from themselves and the general public from their potentially uncontrolled behavior. Accordingly, the penalties are generally not only geared towards punishment, but also as a deterrent to those inclined to drink an amount of alcohol that would impair their ability to function as a responsible individual.

In California, the offense of being drunk in public is filed as a misdemeanor. If you decide to plead guilty, or after a trial you are convicted, you could face upwards of 6 months in jail. In addition to time behind bars, or as an alternative, the court may order that you pay a fine upwards of $1,000. In the best case scenario, the judge may order probation.

It is important to note that even if you were to escape jail time, a guilty verdict will appear on your criminal record. This can significantly affect your job hunt as prospective employers are less inclined to hire an individual with a criminal history. Additionally, a conviction can result in administrative and disciplinary actions by your college if you are in school. It is, therefore, necessary that you take all available steps to fight a charge of being drunk in public, by hiring an experienced San Diego college crimes lawyer.

Can I Beat the Charges?

We have all made mistakes in our lives. But when a mistake could lead to time in jail and a permanent criminal record, it is imperative to take steps to prevent such an outcome. Even if you are unable to remember everything that took place at the time of your arrest, you are still innocent until proven guilty.

The first step in beating a drunk in public charge is to hire a San Diego criminal defense lawyer. It is important to have an attorney by your side from the start. Based on the facts of your case, your lawyer can work to get your charge reduced or even dismissed without the need to go to trial.

In the event that your case proceeds to trial, there are a number of legal defenses available to you and you should discuss all your options with your attorney. They may include:

  • Your alleged drunken behavior did not occur in a public place;
  • The prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove that you were intoxicated; or
  • Before, or at the time of arrest, your civil rights were violated by the police.

While in criminal law it is the duty of the prosecution to prove that you have committed the crime, it is prudent to put forward a strong defense to preserve your rights. A competent San Diego criminal defense lawyer will be able to conduct a comprehensive investigation that will be critical to getting your charge dismissed.

Contact A San Diego College Crimes Lawyer

At McElfresh Law, we understand that having a criminal record can be debilitating as you go through life. For years, we have been providing high-quality legal representation to individuals charged with offenses such as being drunk in public. Our legal team possesses in-depth knowledge and experience in the area of criminal defense advocacy.

Being found guilty of being drunk in public carries serious consequences. Trust McElfresh Law to be your San Diego criminal defense lawyer and call us today at (858) 756-7107 for a free and confidential consultation.