I have defended a lot of drunk in public cases over the years. What ends up happening is, it's very rare that it's a true drunk in public with someone just staggering around drunk, people see him, arrest him and send him into court. Usually, what I'm seeing happening is people are out drunk in public causing trouble or they're in the middle of a situation where trouble is being caused. Police come on the scene trying to disperse the crowd and get a command of things, and the person gives the police a problem.
The police say, move along or you're going to be arrested. They ignore them. Shoot their mouths off, do something crazy and then just end up getting scooped up because they're in the way. The police are going to let him sleep it off and send him into court to deal with some sort of a drunk in public ticket.
Obviously, you don't want to have a drunk and disorderly on your criminal record though, because now you look like a drunk, so you want to get an attorney who can deal with that situation, especially if you don't have any criminal record. There are a lot of things that can be done to help you and to convince the prosecutors to give you a break. Maybe you had a bad night, whatever the case may be. You shouldn't let this design your life here where people can run your record and see that you have a drunk in public on your record.
So, this is something you want to get an attorney for too see if they can kind of clean things up, show the prosecutors you're a good citizen, whatever happened as an aberration. It's not going to happen again.
California Penal Code Section 647(f)
Really, to get you for drunk in public, the police are going to need to show that you were intoxicated — intoxicated to a degree that you really couldn't care for yourself. In other words, you're staggering. You're in the middle of the street. You're getting in fights. You're causing problems with people. That's somebody who is just drunk in public, a nuisance, a problem. Someone who is just walking down the street minding their own business, even though they may be intoxicated, I don't really think that is grounds to get somebody for a drunk in public case.
I think that's just going too far. That's nasty stuff if the police start messing with people like that. If you're just walking and minding your own business, not causing any trouble, not looking to commit a crime, not being loud, not waking people up, not threatening people — there's no reason to bother you under that circumstance and under that scenario.
So, we really have to look at the facts of the case. What happened? Are there any witnesses? Why did the police take you into custody? What does your criminal record look like? These are all things we take int consideration in deciding exactly what the strategy is going to be for a drunk in public case. Most of the time under the right circumstances, as long as you don't have a bad criminal record, you didn't threaten anybody, there's not any other crimes attached to the drunk in public case — we can really get it taken care of.
A lot of time we can do some type of diversionary program. If alcohol is your problem, we can get some sort of Alcoholics Anonymous, maybe even an outpatient program and see if we can get the thing dismissed in the end if we can show that we can keep our act together, not have any other problems, not get arrested again. Do whatever it is the prosecutor and judge want you to do, now you're in a position to get the case dismissed and keep your record clean so you can move on with your life.
So, if you've got a drunk in public case in Los Angeles county, call a criminal defense attorney who's been doing it for twenty-five years. I can definitely help you protect your rights, your freedom, your reputation and get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.