How to Fight a Public Intoxication Charge

Posted on Jul 24, 2018 in Courts, Criminal Defense, NOPD

In a city like New Orleans, where the party never seems to stop,  public intoxication is a charge we see all too often. The city has a reputation for being a place where visitors can cut loose and party hard without consequence. As we say down here: Laissez Le Bon Temps Roule! But sometimes Le Bon Temps Roule right off the track, and partiers can find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

New Orleans is one of the few places in the country where alcohol can legally be consumed in public. This is a fact. Another fact is that public intoxication is one of the more common misdemeanors charged in New Orleans. Now, I’m not here to try to draw parallels or conclusions.

I’m just here to say: Hey, sometimes you party hard, and sometimes you party too hard. If you’ve been charged with public intoxication you’re probably facing a lot of stress and uncertainty. You’re probably worried about your record, your professional and personal reputation. You may even be facing jail time.

However, public intoxication charges can be fought against and won. With the right attorney and the right strategies, you can keep your record clean and avoid more severe punishment.

Seth Bloom and the Bloom Legal team have developed winning strategies for handling public intoxication cases, and share some of them below.

How Do Police Identify and Charge Public Intoxication?

If you’re going to fight your charge public intoxication charge, it’s important to understand the specifics of how and when the police issue it. Public intoxication—like its sister drunk and disorderly conduct—is a subjective charge. This means that it’s up to the officer to determine the charge, based on their individual assessment.

What does such an assessment entail? Primarily, an officer will issue a public intoxication charge if they believe you to be drunk, and assess that you are threatening the safety of yourself and/or others.

The main assessment here is on the part of drunkenness, since regardless of whether you are bothering others, if you are determined to be drunk the officer can easily argue that you pose a threat to your own safety by having drank too much.

Police look for a few tells to determine if a person is drunk. Are their eyes red or bloodshot? Are they stumbling or slurring their speech? Are they particularly rowdy or volatile? Do they smell like alcohol?

However, how a person interacts with the police can also determine their assessment. at the end of the day it is the officer’s word against your own. If they say you are drunk, they can charge you, with or without a breathalyzer test.

As you can see, it’s a bit of a gray area. The subjective nature of the charge can be frustrating and even problematic when the police assess public intoxication, but it also provides a good bit of legal wiggle room when building a defense.

Legal Defense

There are a number of strategies an attorney might use to defend against a public intoxication charge. The primary defense involves arguing that the defendant was not drunk enough to warrant the charge.

Rowdy, lewd, or antagonistic behavior often get charged as public intoxication. A police officer does not like the way a person is acting, and has the right and power to issue a charge. However, behavior of this sort is not illegal. In prosecution, there must be permissible evidence to the effect that you were drunk to a point that you posed a threat to your own safety or the safety of others.

An experienced attorney, like the attorneys at Bloom Legal, can work with the DA and the court to get the case dismissed on lack of evidence.

Other defenses include attempting to prove that though the defendant was drunk they were not in a public place. This strategy could be used if you were charged at or near your home or another private resident.

Or the attorney might try to show that the arresting officer failed to do their due diligence in the arrest procedure. Oftentimes, this type of strategy can be difficult, since it will likely come down to the officer’s word against your own, but it can be effective in certain situations. For this reason, it’s important to know what to do if you are getting arrested. A defense of this nature will rely heavily on your own recollection of and behavior during the arrest.

The key to all these strategies is a good attorney. Every situation is unique, and there are no clear-cut or totally effective ways of dealing with a public intoxication charge. What works for one person might not work for the next. An experienced attorney will be able to assess your individual case, and construct a strategy designed to represent and serve your best interests.

Have You Been Charged With Public Intoxication?

If you or someone you know has been charged with public intoxication, contact Bloom Legal today. Don’t let one night of fun turn into a problem that can affect your life and reputation. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys understand your situation, and want to help. We will work closely with you throughout the entirety of the legal process, helping keep your record clean and minimizing your court time, so that you can put this issue behind you as quickly and painlessly as possible, and get back to your life.

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