PC 647(F) – Drunk In Public
“Drunk in public” is sometimes referred to as “Public Intoxication” or “Drunk and Disorderly“.
Elements Of Drunk In Public
1. willfully under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs,
2. at the time you were under the influence, you were in a public place, and
3. you were unable to exercise care for your own safety or for the safety of others, or
4. because of your intoxication, you interfered with, obstructed, or prevented the free use of a sidewalk, street, or other public way.
There are several defenses that can come into play when dealing with a Drunk in Public charge. Often times, officers lack the probable cause to detain you in the first place, perform an illegal search, and/or never see you commit any violations of the law. When this is the case, it may be possible to file a suppression motion to have the charges completely dismissed.
Further, attacking the elements of the charge itself can be essential and effective in defending your case. For example, sometimes defenses can be made arguing that you were not “willfully” under the influence of drugs, or that you were not in a “public place” at the time in question. More often I find plausible defenses arguing that someone was not (in short) at a level of intoxication that deprived them of the ability to care for their own safety, and they were not obstructing any type of traffic (ie. foot traffic on a sidewalk).
Often times officers lack the probable cause to detain you in the first place, perform an illegal search, and/or never see you commit any violations of the law.
Officers and prosecutors can be over-zealous in bringing these charges, and an investigation into the case provides defenses to get charges dismissed.
Penalties for being convicted of Penal Code 647(f) “Drunk in Public”
California Penal Code 647(f) is a misdemeanor. If convicted, potential consequences can include
• informal probation,
• up to six months in a county jail, and
• a maximum $1,000 fine.
If you have prior Drunk in Public convictions on your record, the penalties can increase.
Even in cases that do not seem to have too many quality defenses at first look can end with favorable results. This can occur through the plea bargaining phase, in order to try to get charges reduced to a lesser offense (ie. an infraction) or get dismissed through “informal diversion.” In informal diversion, an agreement is reached that will allow charges to get dismissed without ever entering a plea in exchange for the defendant performing some task (ie. attending an agreed amount of AA meetings).
Call me a (818) 336-1384 to discuss your case in more detail.
Offenses related to Penal Code 647(f) Drunk in Public
VC 23152 (DUI – driving under the influence)
In some instances, someone who is under the influence and in or near their car may be charged with a DUI even if they were never witnessed driving by the officer. They often try to establish driving by circumstantial evidence.
California Penal Code 415 “disturbing the peace”
Although alcohol is not an element involved in a “disturbing the peace” charge, it can be used as a plea agreement in a “drunk in public” case. In the event that your defense attorney is able to create weaknesses in the prosecutions case, but they are not willing to dismiss it, a favorable outcome may be reducing the charge to PC 415 Disturbing the Peace, which carries less penalties than a Drunk in Public charge. Further, it may be possible to negotiate the PC 415 down to an infraction (as opposed to a more serious misdemeanor).