A person who is charged under California Penal Code §647(f) is charged with Drunk and Disorderly conduct. For a person to be convicted under this section, the government must demonstrate that the person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the requisite elements. The person must be willfully intoxicated, they must be in a public place, and they must be a harm to themselves and others, or be obstructing the public walkway in one way or another.
The specific code section does not provide a range of potential consequences, so those of a general misdemeanor will apply. For misdemeanor charges the potential sentence is up to one year of informal probation, a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in County Jail.
Informal probation is probation that is not supervised. You do not have to check in with a probation officer. You are simply asked to stay out of trouble for the time that you are under probation, or a probation violation will arise, and may lead to additional penalties added onto the current sentence being served.
The final sentence that is imposed on a person charged with a drunk and disorderly conduct will be determined after considering several factors. The prosecutor will look into the person’s prior criminal history, and they will look at the specific facts of the case.
Consider these examples:
Example 1: Don has just left a friend’s birthday party and is walking down the street. He has had a lot to drink and is clearly intoxicated. As he walks down the street, he stops and talks to people, often blocking their path until they listen to him. In one case, he stops a woman walking by and wont let her pass him until she gives him a hug. He is arrested and taken into custody. Don has been arrested before for a DUI and has been convicted of an assault.
Example 2: David is walking down the street from his house to his friend’s house which is a few blocks away. He has had a few drinks and is intoxicated. As he walks down the street, he waves to neighbors and shouts some comments to friends. Determining that he is drunk, officers arrest him and take him into custody.
Don has a past criminal record that warrants consideration. He has been convicted of assault, and has a DUI which implies he may have a drinking problem. He is also harassing a woman on a public street. He will likely get a harsher punishment with some jail time and an increased fine. In comparison, David is not causing trouble, even though he is drunk. He also has no record. If he is convicted, he will get a simple sentence that will not require jail time.
A range of potential consequences allows room for negotiation on a final sentence. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer can prepare a powerful argument and defense that will persuade the Judge to impose a sentence that is towards the lower end of spectrum.