Shreveport/Bossier Public Intoxication Defense Attorney
The Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis, a general practice law firm in Northwest Louisiana, is committed to providing individuals with criminal charges such as public intoxication with the best possible defense in the region. We work hard to ensure our client’s rights remain protected at all costs. With an excellent reputation among judges, prosecutors, and court personnel, you’re in good hands when you have Shreveport Attorney Michael J. Vergis on your side.
What is Public Intoxication?
In Louisiana, public intoxication falls under the umbrella of disturbing the peace, also known as disorderly conduct. There is a long list of behaviors in Louisiana that may call for a ticket for disturbing the peace. However, public intoxication is the most common reason for one of these arrests. It’s a misdemeanor offense put in place to keep someone who’s inebriated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs from disturbing others in a public setting. These laws are also in place to keep people who are not in control of themselves from harming themselves or others.
Offenses that could result in a disturbing the peace ticket include:
- Fighting or acting violent or rowdy in a group of three people or more.
- Public drunkenness or appearing to be under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or other drugs with the potential to harm people or property.
- Annoying others who are behaving lawfully in a public place by using offensive, annoying, or derisive language.
- Interrupting a lawful assembly, such as a peaceful protest or public meeting.
- Unlawful assembly, or purposefully gathering a group of people to disturb the peace.
- Using disruptive language or behavior to intentionally disrupt a funeral, funeral route, viewing, wake, burial, or memorial service.
The law offices of Bossier City/Shreveport Public Intoxication Defense Attorney Michael J. Vergis are here to help. Read on for more information about Public Intoxication laws, charges associated with them, and defenses you may be able to use.
Basic Elements of a Public Intoxication Charge
A public intoxication charge typically consists of three basic elements. All of these elements must be met in order to get a conviction. The defendant must have:
- Been under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and/or other controlled substances
- Caused a disturbance or harm to another person
- Been in a public place when the behavior occurred
Under the Influence
Many states require that prosecutors prove that you were so out of control you could not care for yourself or were a threat to others’ safety, in addition to establishing you were under the influence. Many states don’t require that you were actually drunk to be convicted of a public intoxication charge. The appearance of being drunk or high on drugs is all that’s needed.
Causing a Disturbance
Your attitude and how you acted are a key part of your charges. If you disturb other people with your behavior, this qualifies.
Presence in a Public Place
The disturbance had to happen in a public place. That’s also a key component of a public intoxication charge. What makes a place “public?” Whether the place where you received your public intoxication charge is public or private is an issue the courts take up, since there is no actual definition of what constitutes a public place.
Public Intoxication in Bossier City, Louisiana
The Code of Ordinance in Bossier City does not contain a provision that specifically addresses public intoxication. Bossier City’s law is based on the Louisiana Criminal Code. The crime of public intoxication falls under the state’s Disturbing the Peace statute.
Public Intoxication Shreveport, Louisiana
Public intoxication is defined as public drunkenness under Shreveport’s Code of Ordinance. It is unlawful for a person to be intoxicated on city streets, in any public area inside the city limits, or at any public gathering or public dance in the city. Further, a person who commits the crime of public drunkenness can be fined up to $200, jailed for up to 7 days, or both.
How to Fight a Public Intoxication Charge
There are some legal defenses available for your Bossier City/Shreveport Public Intoxication attorney to raise if you face public intoxication allegations:
You Were Not Drunk and Were Not Acting Drunk
That you were not behaving in a drunken manner in public is an affirmative defense to charges of being drunk and disorderly. For example, you can claim that your loud behavior stemmed from earning a promotion at work or from your team winning the game. The burden of proving this defense lies with the accused.
Public Intoxication is Not a Crime Where You Were Cited
Public intoxication may not be a crime where you live. That’s because some communities don’t have laws against public intoxication. Check your local laws or ask your Bossier City criminal defense attorney to find out whether you are subject to public intoxication laws in your locale.
You Were Cited for Public Intoxication While in a Private Place
A conviction for public drunkenness requires that the offense occurs in public. An essential portion of the offense is missing if the event did not happen in public. If a police officer orders you to come out of a private place and into a public place and then cites you for public intoxication, this defense is an option.
Is Public Intoxication a Misdemeanor?
In Louisiana, public intoxication is a misdemeanor charge. However, a conviction will appear on your criminal record. So, before taking your party to the street, be aware of the potential consequences. You could lose out on jobs if potential employers see this crime on a background check. That includes possible difficulty getting jobs in law enforcement, fire service, the military, the medical field, and government jobs that require a security clearance.
Fines and possible jail time or probation (depending on any previous alcohol-related convictions) are other possible negative outcomes of a public intoxication charge and conviction. Yes, you can actually go to jail for being drunk in public. You could also receive community service hours or complete an alcohol treatment program.
Does Public Intoxication Go on Your Record?
Yes, disturbing the peace is a charge that goes on your record – whether you receive any additional penalties or not. If the charge isn’t expunged from your record, it can be revealed in a basic background check or at the courthouse by accessing your arrest record.
Did you know that the arrest stays on your record even if they drop the charges and do not assign any penalties to you? The impact of this charge is long-lasting. You could experience problems applying for jobs, applying for admission to colleges, renting an apartment, applying for loans, fighting for parental rights, and applying for a professional license.
How Serious is a Public Intoxication Charge?
As we mentioned previously, a public intoxication charge is a misdemeanor, but it can have an enduring impact on your life. It can cost you everything – your freedom, your future, or both.
You’ll face fines and possible jail time, and you could also lose your job and your reputation. And the charge will remain on your criminal record where it can pop up to haunt you for years in the future. It’s best to fight the charges by hiring a private attorney so you can have a clean slate to move on with your life.
Charged with Public Intoxication? Call Michael J. Vergis To Get it Sorted Today
Although public intoxication and DUI charges in Louisiana seldom result in lengthy prison sentences, the harm to your reputation can be difficult to repair and can follow you for years. With the help of Bossier City/Shreveport Public Intoxication Defense Attorney Michael J. Vergis, you may be able to avoid or lessen the impact of these charges on your life. A public intoxication charge can have a big impact on the rest of your life, so don’t take it lightly. Please contact the Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis at (318) 698-3724 for additional information on how we can assist you with this charge or other legal problems.