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Santa Barbara Drunk in Public Defense Lawyer

Defending Against Public Intoxication Charges in California

Drunk in public charges in California do not refer simply to being intoxicated in a public place, which in itself is not illegal. Instead, these refer to more specific situations in which someone is publicly intoxicated and behaves in a way that violates the law.

The Legal Definition of Drunk in Public in California

Despite the name, being drunk or intoxicated in a public place is not inherently illegal, so long as it is due to the use of a legal substance by someone of proper age. Drunk in public violations refer to a situation in which someone is willfully under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or another controlled substance in a public place and either:

  1. Unable to exercise care for him or herself or the safety of others, or
  2. Interfering with the use of streets, sidewalks, and other public paths.

Under this law in California, a public place is typically defined as any location outside a home where people are free to walk, such as public businesses, streets and sidewalks, parks or beaches. Public places can also include a car parked on a public street, common areas and hallways within an apartment building or hotel, and even the front porch, lawn, and driveway of a person's house.

How Serious Is This Charge?

A drunk in public charge is a misdemeanor in California and someone convicted of this charge can face probation, up to six months in jail, and/or up to a $1,000 fine. Anyone convicted of drunk in public charges three or more times within a 12-month period can also face a minimum of 90 days in a county jail. It is worth noting that even receiving probation can be serious since it still goes on a person's criminal record. At the court's discretion, the penalty can be suspended if the defendant agrees to spend 60 days in an alcohol treatment and recovery program.

What Types of Defense Can Be Used to Fight Drunk in Public Charges?

The defense used against a drunk in public charge really depends on the details of the specific case. In general, however, there are a few good plans of attack. Proving that a location was not public, or that someone forced the intoxicated person into a public space, can be a strong defense against this charge. A lack of evidence that the defendant was truly intoxicated can also be a strong defense, especially in an instance where police officers may have been overly hasty in making an arrest. A defendant may also be able to prove that he or she was not willfully intoxicated if someone else served him or her alcoholic drinks without knowledge or consent.

No matter what your situation might be, you should never try to defend yourself in a court of law against any criminal accusation. Call NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022 and we can discuss your case and talk about your options. Our Santa Barbara criminal attorneys have the knowledge and experience to build a strong defense. If the charge is not defendable, we can work with you to get the information we need to convince the prosecutor to order you or a loved one to get treatment instead of jail time.

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