Public intoxication laws vary according to state. In Maryland, drinking alcoholic beverages in a public place is illegal and may result in fines of as much as $100, up to 90 days in jail, or a combination of the two. Since fighting the charges on your own might prove difficult, obtaining the assistance of a qualified Maryland criminal defense lawyer is generally a wise move to make.
What is public intoxication?
Public intoxication laws in Maryland are primarily governed by state statutes and local ordinances, and as a result, they vary from one jurisdiction to another. Here are some common elements that may be considered when determining public intoxication in Maryland:
- Under the influence: To be charged with public intoxication in Maryland, an individual generally must be visibly and significantly under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the point where they are a danger to themselves or others. Signs of someone being under the influence include slurred speech, impaired coordination, stumbling, or inability to stand or walk properly.
- In a public place: Public intoxication typically involves being in a public place or a location accessible to the public while exhibiting signs of intoxication. Public places typically include streets, sidewalks, parks, shopping centers, bars, restaurants, or other public areas.
- Disorderly conduct: Public intoxication may also be charged in conjunction with disorderly conduct if the individual’s behavior disrupts the peace or safety of others. This type of behavior might include creating a disturbance, causing a public nuisance, or engaging in aggressive or violent behavior.
- Safety concerns: Law enforcement may consider the safety of the intoxicated individual and others when deciding whether to charge someone with public intoxication. If they believe that the person’s level of intoxication poses a danger to themselves or others, they may make an arrest.
- Local laws: Some Maryland jurisdictions have specific ordinances related to public intoxication that outline the criteria for charging individuals with this offense. These local laws can vary, so it’s important to check the regulations in your area.
It’s crucial to note that public intoxication laws are enforced at the local level in Maryland, and penalties can vary depending on the jurisdiction. Common penalties for public intoxication may include fines, probation, or mandatory alcohol education programs.
Why should I hire an attorney to defend me against a public intoxication charge?
There are several critical reasons why you should consider hiring a Bowie or Crofton criminal defense attorney if you are facing a public intoxication charge in Maryland:
- Legal complexities: Public intoxication laws vary from state to state, and are often complex. An experienced attorney who is well-versed in Maryland’s specific laws related to public intoxication can help you understand the charges you are facing, potential penalties, and potential defenses.
- Defense strategies: A skilled attorney can assess the details of your case and develop an appropriate defense strategy. They may be able to challenge the evidence against you, question the circumstances of your arrest, or identify any violations of your rights.
- Reduced or dismissed charges: An attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to have the charges against you reduced or dismissed, and may also be able to secure a plea deal that results in less severe penalties or alternative sentencing options, such as alcohol education classes or community service.
- Defending your rights: Your attorney will ensure that your constitutional rights are protected throughout the legal process, and can challenge any violations of your rights, such as unlawful searches and seizures or improper questioning by law enforcement.
- Minimizing consequences: Even when a conviction seems probable, an attorney can work to minimize the consequences by arguing for a more lenient sentence—probation, fines, or counseling—instead of incarceration.
- Record expungement: A public intoxication conviction can have long-lasting consequences on your criminal record and your life. An attorney can advise you regarding the possibility of expunging or sealing your record, which can be critical for employment and housing opportunities.
- Legal guidance: An attorney can provide you with valuable legal advice and guidance throughout the legal process. They can help you make informed decisions about your case and ensure that you understand the potential outcomes and risks.
- Court representation: If your case goes to court, having an attorney who will represent your interests, present your defense, and advocate on your behalf can be vital.
- Peace of mind: Facing criminal charges is typically a stressful and overwhelming experience. However, having an attorney can provide you with the peace of mind of knowing that you have a knowledgeable advocate on your side working to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome.
Retaining an attorney to defend you against a public intoxication charge in Maryland can significantly improve your chances of a favorable result, and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process. You should consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney who understands Maryland law to discuss your specific case and legal options.
Defending a public intoxication charge in Maryland
There are several potential legal defenses available to a person charged with public intoxication in Maryland. Some of the possible defenses include:
- Not in public: A defendant might argue that their arrest for public intoxication was not made in a public place, or they were involuntarily present in a public place when the arrest took place.
- Not intoxicated: Another potential defense to a public intoxication charge might be arguing that the defendant was not intoxicated at the time of the arrest, although this might be difficult to prove as the court often relies on the testimony provided by an arresting officer. However, if the defendant has concrete proof that they were not intoxicated, e.g., a blood alcohol test, this might be sufficient to disprove the charge.
If you were charged with public intoxication in Maryland, Carey Law Office has the experience and skills to help you get the charges reduced or dismissed entirely. With locations in Bowie, Crofton, and Owings (we also serve Calvert County), we’ve defended many people against similar charges. Call our offices or contact us now to schedule an initial consultation today.
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