Drunk in Public
Drunk in Public Charges
Drunk in public, CA Penal Code 647(f) encompasses two crimes:
- If you’re too drunk to exercise care for your safety or for the safety of others
- If you obstruct or prevent others from using public ways because of your intoxication
Drunk in public is a misdemeanor and if convicted you could face:
- Up to six (6) months in county jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Combination of the two previous penalties
- Or, summary/informal probation
Being drunk in public does not necessarily qualify you for a CA Penal Code 647(f) conviction. The law requires that you fulfill the three elements of the crime for a conviction:
- You were willfully under the influence
- Willfully means deliberately, in other words, you chose to get intoxicated
- You were in a public place
- A public place is anyplace other than a private home, apartment, or building on someone’s property
- You were not able to take care of yourself or the safety of others
- Or, you interfered with, or prevented people from using the street, sidewalk, or any public path
If you are found to be extremely intoxicated and cannot take care of yourself the police have the option of detaining you for your own safety, this is known as civil protective custody. If the police place you under civil protective custody they have the right to hold you for up to 72-hours. At that point the police can use their own discretion in deciding to press charges or not.
This option can only be utilized if the police believe that you are intoxicated. If they think that you are under the influence of a controlled substance than they have to press CA Penal Code 647(f) charges.
It’s important to note that not all cities will place people under civil protective custody because they don’t have the facility. If the facility is not available then you will have to be placed in custody of CA Penal Code 647(f).
Defending Drunk in Public Cases – CAPenal Code 647(f)
Having a public intoxication conviction on your record can be detrimental when seeking employment and will stay on your criminal record forever. With that being said, a talented criminal defense attorney can utilize certain techniques to have the case dismissed, resulting in a a clean criminal record for you.
One technique your attorney can exercise is to show that the arrest was unlawful because it took place at a private residence. The law makes it very clear that the offense must occur in public, if it occurred in a private home, apartment, or a structure on someone’s property then there should not be a conviction.
In a lot of public intoxication cases there is not enough evidence to warrant a conviction. If a prosecutor cannot prove that you were not willfully intoxicated to the level defined by the law then a conviction should not take place. The law clearly states that you must be voluntarily intoxicated to a point where you cannot take care of yourself or the others around you. If a criminal defense attorney can prove that there is insufficient proof then there should not be a conviction.
These are just two of the techniques that a skilled criminal defense attorney can point out to the court to make sure you aren’t convicted of CA Penal Code 647(f). If you have recently been arrested for public intoxication and are concerned about your future then it’s important to contact an attorney immediately.
CA Penal Code 647(f) can be expunged if you have successfully completed your probation term. For more information read about the expungement process here.
1 647(f) Who is found in any public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, controlled substance, or toluene, in a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others, or by reason of his or her being under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, or toluene, interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way.