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California Drunk in Public Lawyers

Drunk in Public – California Penal Code 647(f) PC

Disorderly conduct while under the influence is unlawful in California. This is commonly referred to as drunk in public or public intoxication. A drunk in public charge in California can result in severe consequences, including jail time and fines.

Overview of Penal Code 647(f)

Under California PC 647(f), it is unlawful for any person to be “found in any public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, controlled substance, or toluene, in a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others, or by reason of his or her being under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, or toluene, interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way.”

Prosecution of Drunk in Public Charges Under PC 647(f)

Charged with drunk in public under PC 647(f)
The prosecution must prove certain elements in order for you to be found guilty under PC647(f)

In order to be convicted of a drunk in public charge, the prosecution must prove that you were:

  1.  Willfully under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs;
  2. While under the influence, you were in a public place; and
  3. Either:
    • Unable to care for yourself or other’s safety; or
    • Because you were under the influence, you were obstructing a public street, sidewalk, or other public area.

Sentence and Punishment Under PC 647(f)

Under PC 647(f), drunk in public is a misdemeanor crime in California. If you are convicted of being drunk in public, you face:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines;
  • Up to 6 months in county jail; or
  • Both jail time and fines.

Punishment for this crime may increase if you have any prior offenses or if additional charges were filed following your arrest for the alleged incident (e.g. vandalism, assault, etc.).

Possible Defenses

If you have been arrested for drunk in public under PC 647(f), it is imperative that you hire a knowledgeable attorney with experience defending those charged with drunk in public in California. A skilled attorney will be able to employ several defenses on your behalf in order to get the best results possible in your case. Some of these defenses may include:

  • You were not willfully intoxicated, because you were drugged or forced to consume alcohol beyond your will (involuntary intoxication);
  • You were not intoxicated in a public place;
  • You were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • You were not a danger to yourself or others;
  • You were not obstructing a public street, sidewalk or other public area;
  • Police did not have probable cause to lawfully arrest you; or
  • Police used excessive force or incorrect procedures upon your arrest and/or incarceration.

Frequently Asked Questions

At Wallin & Klarich, we commonly receive questions from clients facing drunk in public charges. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive:

What is considered a “public place”?

  • This is a bit of a gray area. Under PC 647(f), a public place can be anywhere that is
    Charged with drunk in public for being intoxicated in a public area under PC 647(f)
    If you are intoxicated in  a public place, you could be charged under PC 647(f).

    open and accessible to anyone that wishes to go there. This means that, although you may be on the property of a private business in which drinking alcohol is allowed, such as a bar, club, or restaurant, California may recognize this property as a “public place” if it is open and accessible to the public. Thus, you may be convicted of public intoxication if the prosecution can prove that you were in a bar, club, sidewalk, street, or any place open to the public. However, there must be probable cause for your arrest, meaning that simple intoxication is not enough to constitute your arrest. That is why it is imperative that you hire a skilled attorney to defend you.

How do police know that I’m under the influence?

  • The police are allowed to use their training and experience in the field to make this determination. Though you don’t have to submit to a breathalyzer, like in a DUI, the police will look for and document in a police report that you had blood-shot or watery eyes, slurring your words, unable to walk, etc. The prosecutor will prove this by calling the arresting officer to testify that you were under the influence and will look to their police report.

Can I be convicted of this crime if I’m at my own home or a friend’s place?

  • No, unless you are stepping onto public property such as a street or a sidewalk, you most likely could be convicted of drunk in public while on private property.

How long may the police hold me in the “drunk tank”?

  • If it is reasonable to do so, the police may place you in jail and release you within any given time upon your own recognizance or upon bail. The police are also authorized to bring you to a treatment facility to evaluate your health and welfare if necessary.

Call the Skilled Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

Wallin & Klarich Law
Call us today for a free phone consultation.

If you or a loved one has been charged with drunk in public or any other alcohol or drug-related crime, you need to contact an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney immediately.

At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing drunk in public charges for over 30 years. We will meet with you immediately to review the facts of your case, and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the very best outcome possible.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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