Goleta Criminal Defense Attorney-
Public Intoxication – Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense, P.C.
CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 647(F): PUBLIC INTOXICATION DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Isla Vista is an unincorporated community within Goleta that is famous for college parties and events. The overall crime rate in Isla Vista is 54% higher than the national average. The party atmosphere draws not only the Santa Barbara students, but also crowds from surrounding areas. Isla Vista is a great place to meet new people and let loose, however excessive alcohol consumption can lead to arrest on a charge of public drunkenness. California Penal Code 647f defines public intoxication as being willfully under the influence while you are in a public area. You must also be intoxicated to the point where you cannot care for your safety or the safety of others around you, and/or to the point that you have become a hindrance or obstruction to other people using the public walkways, such as pavements or streets.
In order to convict you of public intoxication, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You were under the influence of alcohol, any drug and/or an inhalant, and
- You were in a public place, and
- You were unable to exercise care for your safety or for the safety of someone else, or
- You interfered with, obstructed or prevented the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way.
If you have been arrested for being intoxicated in public, it does not mean that you are guilty. It’s important to vigorously fight a public intoxication charge because a criminal conviction will stay on your record and can adversely affect job and educational opportunities down the road.
A former Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Offices in Santa Barbara and San Diego Counties, Sanford Horowitz and his legal team will offer you a free consultation, investigate the evidence against you, and recommend practical steps to achieve the best possible results in your case
THE ACT OF PUBLIC INTOXICATION
Under California Penal Code 647f, being drunk in public is a misdemeanor offense. A misdemeanor offense in Goleta is punishable with a fine of less than $1000 and jail term of less than 12 months. Persons convicted of 647f can be sent to jail for up to six months, fined up to $1000, and sentenced to informal probation. The penalties are enhanced for subsequent drunk in public charges. Examples of public intoxication include:
- After a bartender cuts Will off because he is intoxicated, Will grabs a stool and throws it across the bar.
- While drunk, Miles lies down on a set of train tracks and fights off a passerby that tries to move him.
- Linda, under the influence of cocaine, passes out on a sidewalk and thereby forces people walking by to step over her.
If you are under age 21, and you are convicted for public intoxication, you can also lose your driver’s license for one year (California Vehicle Code Section 13202.52). If you do not have a driver’s license, the court will order the Department of Motor Vehicles to delay issuing you a driver’s license for one year subsequent to the time you become legally eligible to drive.
A public intoxication conviction may have negative immigration consequences. Under the United States immigration law, certain kinds of criminal convictions in Goleta can lead to a non-citizen being deported. Some convictions can also make an immigrant “inadmissible”.
The major categories of “deportable” or “inadmissible” crimes are:
- crimes of moral turpitude,
- aggravated felonies,
- controlled substance (drug) offenses,
- firearm offenses, and
- domestic violence crimes
If a defendant violated this statute because he was intoxicated via drug use or by using a controlled substance, then there may be grounds for deportation or inadmissibility.
If you willfully resist, delay, or obstruct a public officer, in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of the officer, you are guilty of resisting arrest PC 148(a)(1). The crime of resisting, obstructing, or delaying an officer is charged as a misdemeanor. If found guilty, you may be punished by up to one year in jail.
Fighting a public intoxication charge
If you are accused of a crime under this statute, then you can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed.
Three common defenses to this crime are to show that you were:
- not in a public place,
- involuntarily intoxicated, and/or
- there was no interference or obstruction.
NOT IN A PUBLIC PLACE
The term “in public” has a very specific definition under this law and has been interpreted by the courts in certain ways. It is always a legal defense to PC 647f accusations for an accused to say that, although intoxicated, they were not in a public place. You may argue, for instance, that you were drunk in your own home.
You must be “willfully under the influence” to be guilty of public intoxication in Goleta. If you were drunk because you accidently ingested drugs or alcohol, or did so involuntarily, then you are not guilty of public intoxication.
LACK OF PROBABLE CAUSE
You may be convicted if you interfered with or obstructed the free use of a street, sidewalk, or other public way, while intoxication. If you can prove that you did not interfere with a public way, then you will have a strong defense. For example, if you were so drunk that you fell asleep behind a dumpster in an alley, you are not obstructing any public area.
PUBLIC INTOXICATION EXPOSURE FAQ’S
WILL I BE PROSECUTED IF I AM DRUNK IN PUBLIC?
Possibly. The police have the option to detain, rather than arrest you, if you’ve had too much to drink and you are out in a public location. Sometimes you are allowed to “sober up” in protective custody for several hours and then be released without being charged with a crime. It all depends on your behavior at the time and the judgement of law enforcement.
CAN I RECEIVE A DRUNK IN PUBLIC CHARGE IF I AM IN A PARKED CAR?
Yes. If you are parked on any public street or area while you are intoxicated while sitting in your car, the police may arrest you and file a drunk in public charge against you. The police may also state you were attempting to drive under the influence and charge you with the much more serious crime of DUI, depending on the circumstances.
CAN A PERSON GET AN EXPUNGEMENT AFTER A PENAL CODE 647F CONVICTION?
Under Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement releases an individual from virtually “all penalties and disabilities” arising out of the conviction.
A benefit of this is that an expunged conviction does not need to be disclosed to potential employers.
As a basic rule, PC 1203.4 authorizes an expungement for a misdemeanor or felony offense provided that the applicant successfully completed probation (either felony probation or misdemeanor probation), and is not currently:
- charged with a criminal offense,
- on probation for a criminal offense, or
- serving a sentence for a criminal offense.
This means that once you successfully complete probation or serving a jail term, you may begin trying to get the crime expunged.
PUBLIC INTOXICATION DEFENSE ATTORNEYS IN Goleta
Don’t wait to contact Sanford Horowitz to ensure that your legal rights are protected.