Have you been arrested for Drunk in Public?
Here are 10 things to know about drunk in public:
1. You are Not Guilty of Drunk in Public PC 647(f)
You are not guilty of PC 647(f) if you were simply drunk in public. After all, our whole western civilization has been built and rests on a foundation of liquor as a social lubricant- just look at all the bars and liquor stores around you. To accuse you of this crime, there must an additional allegation that you were unable to care for yourself or others OR you were blocking the street, roadways, or other public sections of your city or town. So if you go out and get drunk at a bar and our walking home without any problems, then you are not guilty of this crime.
2. The Punishment for a Conviction of Drunk in Public
The punishment for PC 647(f) is up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine and summary probation. However, in most cases, these punishments are only theoretical and very few people get the maximum. What’s perhaps worse, is the stigma for potential employers, schools or even potential mates of what a conviction for “Drunk in Public” says about you. So there’s many reasons to fight and win your case!
3. You Must Be in a Public Place
If you are drunk in a private residence, or a private party, or your own house or garage you are not guilty of this crime. Unfortunately, some courts have determined that some very private areas- such as your own driveway or even your own yard or porch can be considered a public place. So if you like to sit outside and have a few brewskis under the blue skies, remember the police can spoil your fun.
4. The Police Must Personally Witness You
In the absence of a warrant, the arresting officer generally must witness you commit the crime in their presence. So if someone tells the officer that you are drunk in public or complains about you, and are arrested on that basis alone, you can fight your 647(f) case.
5. You Must be Willfully Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance
So if someone put Rohypnol (commonly known as “roofies”) in your water, you cannot be found guilty of PC 647(f). Does that willful requirement apply to being in a public place? For instance, if you are forced to leave a bar because someone is being assaultive, then there is a case to be made that you did not willfully go into a public place. What if someone throws you out of their car when you are drunk? Are you willfully drunk in public?
6. 647(f) is Not Infractible
The charge of 647(f) is not a wobblette (a “wobblette” is a violation that can be charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction). That’s bad news if you are arrested for 647(f) because it means the judge cannot reduce the charge to an infraction.
7. The “Drunk” Part of Drunk in Public is Very Subjective
Though there is no requirement that the police present a certain objective level of intoxication (such as .08% Blood Alcohol level in a DUI case), this means that it is easy to challenge the police officer’s observations that you were intoxicated or inebriated. It’s ultimately the jury’s or judge’s decision as to what level of intoxication qualifies to find someone guilty of PC 647(f).
8. There are Several Defenses to a Violation of 647(f)
Some commonly used defenses are that 1) you were not in a public place 2) there is not sufficient proof that you were intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance and 3) you were able to care for yourself and 4) you were not obstructing any roadway or street.
9. Early Intervention
With any criminal case, it’s important to hire an attorney as early in the process as possible, and the charge of PC 647(f) is no exception. The earlier you hire an attorney, the better chance you have of winning your case.
10. Related Crimes
Charges of PC 647(f) are sometimes related to PC 415 (disturbing the peace) VC 23152 (Driving under the influence), HS11550 (under the influence of a controlled substance), or PC303a (loitering to purchase alcohol). Often times, PC 647(f) is pled down to PC 415 (disturbing the peace). Our goal is not to plead your case, but to win it outright.
Do you want a free consultation? At the Law Offices of Seppi Esfandi, we are experts at defending alleged violations of PC 647(f). Call us now for a free consultation and let us give you the road map to successfully winning your case!
Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert in Criminal Law who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.