Maybe you were out celebrating an occasion, maybe you chose to drown some sorrows with a few cocktails, or maybe you were having a fun night out with friends. Regardless of the situation, a fun and relaxing time can easily turn sour when it results in a public intoxication charge. A wide variety of drunken behavior might have caused law enforcement to haul you away in handcuffs.
A public intoxication charge from one bad night is a misdemeanor which will stay on your record for life. A conviction can thwart your chances of getting a job offer, affect which companies or individuals might rent you a home or apartment, or threaten your ability to get into college or graduate school.
Your best chance to get your case dismissed, plea bargained, or expunged is to hire an experienced Atlanta public intoxication attorney who will fight to get the best outcome for your case. Contact Schnipper Law at (404) 545-5845 for a free consultation to discuss your charges and determine the best course of action for your case.
Georgia’s Definition of Public Intoxication
Many different scenarios might give rise to a public intoxication charge. Georgia’s broad public drunkenness law gives authority to the police to arrest someone under a variety of circumstances. Under Georgia law, “A person who shall be and appear in an intoxicated condition in any public place or within the curtilage of any private residence not his own other than by invitation of the owner or lawful occupant” is guilty of a misdemeanor.
The concept of public property is broad, but in practice, it refers to any location where people beyond family members and other members of the household can view or hear the offender’s conduct; however, you should know that you can also get charged with public intoxication on private property. The portion of Georgia’s public drunkenness law which speaks about curtilage refers to the land around a house. Those who engage in rowdy behavior which constitutes public intoxication can be charged in their own yard, their neighbor’s yard, or the yard of any other private residence, regardless of invitation.
Georgia law further addresses the behaviors which constitute public intoxication. They include:
- Boisterousness is a general term which refers to noisy and unrestrained behavior.
- Indecent act or condition includes public nudity, public urination, obscene gestures, tagging, public sexual acts, and other behavior which might be offensive to those around the offender.
- Vulgar and profane language typically includes curse words and explicit descriptions of sexual acts. If it’s language you would not use in front of your mother or grandmother, or you would hear it bleeped out on broadcast television or radio, it likely falls under this category.
- Loudness refers to any loud noises or activity born out of public intoxication. This includes loud singing, laughter, loud conversations, fights, and more.
- Unbecoming language is an umbrella term that includes any other offensive language that might not be vulgar or profane.
Penalties for Public Intoxication
Public intoxication, referred to as public drunkenness in Georgia’s statutes, is a misdemeanor crime. If convicted, you face up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. In some cases, you might face both jail time and a fine. A judge might order community service in lieu of jail time, as well as mandatory attendance at an alcohol education program. You should also expect to pay for any property damage you might have caused. The extent to which the prosecution seeks maximum penalties from the court depends on a variety of factors including the circumstances of your arrest and charges, your criminal history, and your history with alcohol. If you have previous convictions for public drunkenness, you will likely face the maximum penalties.
Defense Strategies for Public Intoxication Charges in Georgia
A skilled Atlanta public intoxication lawyer will investigate the circumstances of your arrest and charges to uncover any facts which can help to build a strong defense against your charges. Each case of public intoxication has different circumstances, but these are some common defense strategies your attorney might employ to get your case dismissed or argue for minimum penalties:
- Dispute place. If you can prove the place you were accused of public intoxication was in fact, not a public space, your case might be dismissed.
- Dispute intoxication. Georgia’s legal level of intoxication is a 0. 08 percent breath/blood alcohol level. If you were not intoxicated when you were arrested, or law enforcement did not properly follow procedure to obtain your level of intoxication, your public drunkenness charge might be dismissed. Yet, depending on the circumstances, a court might still find you guilty of another offense such as disorderly conduct.
- Dispute behavior. Aspects of Georgia’s public drunkenness law are subjective and broad. Although this gives law enforcement more leeway in making an arrest, it also provides a competent attorney the space to argue your behavior wasn’t indecent, boisterous, loud, etc. It is not a crime to be intoxicated in public, so proving disorderly behavior didn’t occur, might result in the dismissal of your case.
- Dispute procedure. When police arrest someone they must follow specific laws and procedures, such as informing you of your Miranda rights, following chain of evidence procedures in regards to blood alcohol testing, and ensuring overall due process. When law enforcement violates your rights by not following the appropriate laws or procedures, your case might get dismissed.
Contact a Skilled Atlanta Public Intoxication Attorney Today
If you have been arrested and charged with public drunkenness in the Atlanta area or you are seeking legal counsel for a friend or family member, contact Attorney David Schnipper at (404) 545-5845 for a free consultation to discuss the circumstances surrounding your arrest and charges. You need an experienced Atlanta public intoxication attorney who will provide the best defense for your charges and protect your rights as you go through the judicial process. David Schnipper has experience working in two District Attorney offices in Georgia, giving him an advantage over many other defense lawyers.