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Drunk in Public Law & Defense

PC 647(f)

Information on the crime of drunk in public, (also called drunk and disorderly or public intoxication) can be found at penal code 647(f).

PC 647(f)) Law: To prove that a defendant is guilty of public intoxication under (PC 647(f), the prosecutor must prove that the defendant:

  • Was in a public place (defined below)

  • While in public, the defendant was willfully under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, or any combination of alcohol and drugs, AND either of the following:

  1. The defendant was in a condition that makes him or her unable to exercise care for his or her safety or the safety of others, OR

2. By reason of intoxication, defendant interferes with, obstructs, or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way

Willfully Defined: The term willfully, in PC 647(f) law, means the defendant purposely became intoxicated. In other words, to be found guilty of public intoxication, defendant must have knowingly ingesting alcohol or drugs.

Public Place Defined: The term public place, in PC 647(f) Law, means a place that is open and accessible to anyone who wishes to go there, not including a person’s home (Abbrev.).

Sentence for Public Intoxication

PC 647(f): Drunk & Disorderly, or (drunk in public) is charged as a misdemeanor. A person who is convicted of public intoxication under Penal Code 647(f) can be sentenced up to 180 days in the county jail.

Enhancement: A defendant who has three or more convictions of PC 647(f) within one year may be sentenced to a year in the county jail.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of court supervision in lieu of an actual jail sentence. If the defendant is placed on probation, the court may still impose a jail sentence; however, jail sentences that are imposed as a term of probation in PC 647(f) cases may usually be served alternatively on work release or house arrest. The judge may also require probation conditions of probation that are relevant to goal of punishment and curbing a repeat offense, such as mandatory AA or NA classes.

Good Behavior Credits: If he defendant is sentenced to jail or work release in a PC 647(f) case then he or she will be entitled to one day credit off his or her sentence for every day that the sentence is served on the defendant's good behavior (50%).

CIMT: PC 647(f) is not a crime involving moral turpitude.

Bail: The scheduled bail amount for drunk and disorderly cases in San Bernardino County is $5,000 (2020). It might be possible for the defendant to be released on his or her own recognizance (OR) in lieu of posting bail, but whether or not the defendant is released on his own recognizance is entirely up to the judge. A criminal defense lawyer will argue for the defendant's OR release by presenting favorable evidence on behalf of the defendant, such as the defendant's lack of criminal history, family and community ties, disparity of income to the requested bail amount, and the salient facts of the case.

Additional punishment: If convicted of drunk in public (PC 647(f), the defendant could face up a $1,000 fine. Furthermore, the defendant may face consequences with professional licensing or immigration issue.

Defense to PC 647(f)

Common defense to drunk and disorderly crimes include: Involuntary Intoxication (Examples of involuntary intoxication include: defendant’s drink was spiked; defendant was forced to drink an alcoholic or drugged beverage against his or her will; defendant was accidentally served an alcoholic beverage when he or she was under the impression it was a non-alcoholic beverage, etc); defendant not in a public place at the time of intoxication (Example of not in a public place include: police find the defendant in a non-public space,, such as in a vehicle or a home, and then take the defendant to a public place, such as outside the defendant's vehicle or home [common for passengers in DUI cases]), duress, mistake of fact, statute of limitations (1 year), and more.

To learn more about the crime of drunk and disorderly (also called public intoxication, or drunk in public), or PC 647(f), contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers are available every day to answer all of your questions and patiently explain your rights and defense options.

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