The crime of public intoxication is exactly what it sounds like. For you to be charged with this offense, it has to be proven that you were either in a public space, and while occupying that public space you were intoxicated. You may think that a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication is essentially harmless; however, that is what makes this charge very misleading.
How does the state of Maryland define public intoxication?
In the state of Maryland, public intoxication is defined as being intoxicated in a public location and putting the lives of others in danger or causing a public disturbance. In other words, you can be arrested for the offense of public intoxication if you are doing something that can endanger the safety of people or property around you or are causing a disturbance of some type while intoxicated.
One of the most important factors concerning a charge of public intoxication is the location in which you are found to be intoxicated. The state of Maryland considers public locations to include streets, sidewalks, parks, stadiums, retail establishments, restaurants and bars.
How can public intoxication lead to other charges?
Public intoxication can quickly lead to other charges. For example, if you are causing a public disturbance and a police officer attempts to stop the disruptive behavior, you can be charged with disturbing the peace. If you continue to be disruptive and decide not to listen to the police officer, that is an additional charge of failure to obey lawful order. In one night, you’ve racked up three charges of public intoxication, disturbing the peace, and failure to obey lawful order.
In some cases, the additional charges may be much more severe. For example, if you are at the bar and decide to start a fight with someone, you can be charged with assault in addition to public intoxication. If you break into another person’s home or a local business by smashing a window with a brick, you could be charged with burglary. Assault and burglary can be felonies depending on the circumstances of the case, which means you could face significant prison time and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted.
What are the penalties for public intoxication?
If you are found guilty of public intoxication, your penalties could involve a fine of up to $100, 90 days in jail, or a combination of both. If you accrue any other charges during the same incident, your penalties can increase. Also, depending on your level of intoxication, you may be taken to a detoxification center instead of jail. This depends on whether your health is in danger, such as suffering from alcohol poisoning, and whether you consent to being sent to a detoxification center or another health care facility.
Why you should seek an attorney
It is always in your best interest to seek out an experienced attorney for help if you are facing charges for public intoxication. Your attorney can break the law down to you and inform you of what factors the prosecution will consider to prove your guilt. Your attorney can also recommend some actions that you can take to help you appear more favorable in front of the judge.
What defenses can be used to a charge of public intoxication?
Because the crime of public intoxication requires two factors – the act of being intoxicated and causing a disturbance in a public place – the event has to be identical to the literal definition of the law. Your attorney will either prove that you were not intoxicated at the time of the arrest, or if you were intoxicated, you were not occupying a public place. Because judges tend to believe the events of the arresting officer, it can be difficult for an attorney to prove that the defendant was not intoxicated at the time of the arrest. This is because police officers usually issue citations to individuals, and the reason the individual is receiving the citation is written down.
Because of this, attorneys usually try to prove that the defendant was either not intoxicated in a public location or was not arrested in a public location. For example, if you were intoxicated in your friend’s home, you cannot be charged for public intoxication because your friend’s home is not considered a public place. Some of the mistakes that people make when they have been charged with public intoxication are admitting that they were drunk or admitting that they were in a public place when they were not.
If you are in a private home, you cannot be charged with public intoxication. Another factor to consider is whether your actions endangered the safety of the people or the property around you. For example, if you are walking on a sidewalk while intoxicated, a police officer cannot charge you with public intoxication – unless you are in the process of putting other people in danger or acting as a threat to others.
Being charged with public intoxication does not mean you should automatically plead guilty. Let the Crofton criminal defense attorneys at Carey Law Office review your case and build a defense to the charges. Call our office at 301-464-2500 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation at our Bowie, Crofton, or Owings office. We serve clients in Calvert County and the surrounding areas.
My name is Joe Carey, and I am the founder and principal attorney of the Carey Law Office. I have lived in Maryland my entire life. I grew up in a small town in Prince George’s County and, with the help of my partner in life, Nancy, I raised my family here: three exceptional children (a son and two daughters), and two goofy, spoiled black Labrador Retrievers. Learn More