Articles Posted in Drunk in Public

 California Penal Code §647 defines several different scenarios in which a person may be charged with lewd or lascivious conduct.

One of the most common scenarios in which many of our clients find themselves, is when they are charged with drunk and disorderly conduct. The relevant code section under California Penal Code §647 (f) reads:

“who is 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”

What happens when you have a prior criminal record in California, and you are charged with a crime in a different state? This question becomes important when there is a potential probation violation due to the previous case. In order to better understand this process, it is best to define it through the use of examples.

David is a Los Angeles resident and works as a consultant for a company. His job requires him to travel a lot. One night while David was out with friends in LA, he was charged with drunk and disorderly conduct. David was drinking and him and his friends were causing some disturbances on the street outside of a restaurant, and were consequently too drunk to be allowed back in. This led David to be charged, and eventually convicted of a misdemeanor drunk and disorderly conduct.

As part of the sentence, David was put on three years of informal probation. Informal probation does not require that David check in with an officer, nor does it require that he not leave the state or the county. It does, however, require that David not commit any additional offenses while he is on this probationary period.

California Penal Code §647 makes it unlawful for a person to be drunk in public. The statute states that any person:

“who is 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.”

A drunk and disorderly conduct is charged as a misdemeanor. This means that if you get charged under California Penal Code §647 you would have a criminal charge on your record. With a misdemeanor charge, you are facing potential fines, probation and jail time.

California Penal Code §415 refers to Disturbing the Peace. A charge under PC 415 can be either a misdemeanor or an infraction depending on the facts surrounding the case. However, a PC 415 is generally a lesser charge so that it does not have as harsh of a consequence as other potential sentences. Additionally, a PC415 look more favorable on a criminal record and can be explained more easily than another more serious charge.

Let’s consider an example. Let’s say that David has been charged with a drunk and disorderly conduct under California Penal Code § 647(f). This can be charged as a misdemeanor and possibly a felony. It cannot be charged as an infraction, which is the ideal charge if the case cannot be dismissed. An infraction includes lower fines and no jail sentence as part of its potential sentence. When a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney appears on your behalf at the first court appearance they will be given a standard offer.

This first appearance is called an arraignment. At the arraignment the attorney will be expected to put in a plea on behalf of their client. The main goal at the arraignment is to try and negotiate with the District attorney or the City attorney to reduce the criminal charge or have it dismissed altogether. If the charge can be reduced to an infraction within the statute, the attorney will push the government attorney for that option.

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.

In California, many people are often arrested for a drinking in public charge. It is referred to as, drunk and disorderly conduct and is charged under California Penal Code §647(f).

In order for prosecutor’s to prove a drunk and disorderly conduct, certain elements of the charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

First and foremost, the prosecutor must demonstrate that you were willfully under the influence of alcohol. This means that you either took a blood alcohol test and there is evidence of your intoxication, or you demonstrated signs of intoxication. If you were given a blood alcohol test, then there is little room for dispute, unless you feel that the machine was not properly calibrated, or there are maintenance issues. If it was a blood test, you may feel that the sample was contaminated and is not giving an accurate reading.