Texas is home to thousands of restaurants, bars, stadiums, and other sources of entertainment. Whereas many Texans go out and have fun without issue, some may be arrested for public intoxication as they walk from bar to bar or leave a venue. Public intoxication charges may have serious consequences for the accused. The accused may lose his job and his relationships with family and friends may be damaged. However, public intoxication charges do not have to ruin someone’s life. With the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, it may be possible to have criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
What is public intoxication?
An individual may be convicted of public intoxication if the individual is in a public place and is intoxicated to such an extent that the individual may harm himself or someone else. For example, if an individual is stumbling around near a busy highway, that individual may be arrested for public intoxication.
It should be noted that an individual may be charged with public intoxication for consuming substances other than alcohol, such as illegal drugs.
Defenses to public intoxication charges
If the individual arrested for public intoxication can show that the substance was given for therapeutic reasons and that the individual was being treated by a licensed medical doctor, the accused may provide evidence of these facts to defend against the charges.
The accused may also be able to argue that he was not intoxicated and was not acting in a way that put himself or others in danger. Perhaps the accused was simply excited and an officer mistook this behavior for intoxication. Or, maybe the accused’s behavior truly would not have put himself or others in danger.
Finally, if the accused was not in a public area, the accused cannot be arrested for public intoxication. For example, a police officer cannot arrest someone attending a private party at someone’s residence for public intoxication.
Penalties for public intoxication
In Texas, public intoxication is a class C misdemeanor. Class C misdemeanors are not punishable by jail time, but a fine of up to $500 may be ordered.
If the offender is under the age of 21, additional penalties may apply. For example, if the offender has been convicted at least twice in the past for certain alcohol-related charges, the offender may face a fine of up to $2,000 and a jail term of up to 180 days. The offender may also be ordered to complete community service and a suspension of the offender’s driver’s license may also be ordered.
How can a lawyer help with public intoxication charges?
Criminal defense attorneys make sure that someone accused of a crime is protected throughout the claim. For example, the state of Texas has the burden of proof in criminal claims. Prosecutors and other law enforcement officials must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused actually committed a crime. Criminal defense attorneys will argue that charges should be reduced or dismissed if the prosecution cannot provide sufficient evidence of a crime.
Criminal defense attorneys will also determine if the accused has any valid defenses available that may be raised in a public intoxication case. If so, the criminal defense attorney will gather evidence to support these defenses and submit it to court for consideration by a judge.
If you are facing criminal charges, contact the Hampton Eppes Law Group
Brian Eppes understands the stress that criminal charges cause his clients. A former prosecutor, Mr. Eppes possesses valuable experience in the Texas criminal justice system. To schedule a free consultation with Mr. Eppes, call 817-877-5201 or visit www.hamptonlegalgroup.com.