Last month police were called to the Santa Monica Pier Carousel after a man punched a window at the attraction. When police arrived they discovered that the man appeared to be drunk. After he was treated for the injuries to his hand he was arrested for vandalism and public intoxication. Police released him from custody later that day when they were satisfied that he no longer posed a threat to his own safety.
It can be a crime to be drunk in public. It is important to know when you could possibly face criminal charges for public intoxication. If you are arrested for being drunk in public in Los Angeles it is important to hire an experienced attorney to handle your case.
When Can I be Arrested for Being Drunk in Public?
The crime of being drunk in public is outlined in Penal Code 647f PC. Essentially, it is a crime to be willfully under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a public place if you:
- Cannot exercise care for your own safety or another person’s safety; or
- Interfere with, obstruct, or prevent someone else from using public property.
- He intentionally consumed drugs or alcohol;
- The Santa Monica Carousel is a public location; and
- He demonstrated that he was unable to care for his own safety when he hurt his hand by punching the carousel’s window.
If the man had prevented others from getting to or using the carousel he could have potentially been guilty of the second type of public intoxication.
When am I Considered to be in Public?
One of the requirements for a drunk in public charge is that you are actually in public. Over the years, courts have helped to define what kind of space should be considered “public” for the purposes of the law. An area may be considered to be public if it is open to common use, participation, and enjoyment. If you can go there freely it is probably considered a public space. Places where you can be arrested for being drunk in public include:
- Restaurants and bars;
- Amusement parks;
- Shopping malls;
- Retail stores;
- Hotel lobbies and hallways;
- Parked cars (on public streets); and
- Apartment building hallways.
As a rule of thumb, you may be considered to be in public if you are not in your own private space or on someone else’s private property with their permission. A place will also be considered to be public even if you are alone. The fact that the space could be used by other people is enough to make it public.
So, you could be arrested for being drunk in public even if you were alone and lying on a sidewalk in the middle of a Los Angeles park. The fact that you were (1) drunk, (2) in public, and (3) interfering with the use of a public space is enough to warrant an arrest.
What Can Happen if I’m Arrested for Being Drunk in Public?
When you are arrested for being drunk in public in Los Angeles you will probably be taken into police custody. Generally, they will wait until you have sobered up and then release you. You will then be required to show up for your scheduled court date. It is important to speak with a criminal attorney after you are released. An attorney can help to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed before you have to go to court.
In California, being drunk in public is a misdemeanor. This means that a conviction can be punished by summary probation, a fine of $1,000, and/or up to 6 months in a Los Angeles County Jail. If you are convicted for three drunk in public charges in one year you can face a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail. A court has the discretion to impose an alternative sentence for alcohol treatment and counseling.
How Can I Fight Drunk in Public Charges?
An arrest for being drunk in public will not automatically result in criminal charges or a conviction. It is important to speak with a Los Angeles criminal lawyer as soon as you are released from police custody. An attorney will help you achieve the best possible outcome after your arrest by arguing certain defenses. These defenses will help to make it difficult for the prosecution to build a successful case against you. You can fight charges for being drunk in public by arguing:
- Lack of willful intoxication;
- The space was private, not public; and
- Law enforcement brought you into a public space.
Have you been arrested for being drunk in public in Los Angeles? If so, do not hesitate to contact our skilled legal defense team today. We will review your case, determine potential defenses, and answer the questions you have.
The Rodriguez Law Group