Public intoxication is sometimes confused with the offense of disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is simply disturbing the peace, but public intoxication is more complicated and challenging to prove. The penalties for the latter are also more grievous if you are charged and convicted successfully.
Your defense options might be limited if you were openly seen using alcohol or drugs in public. Without that, the proving task might be uphill for the prosecution, and your Tampa criminal defense lawyer can easily get a plea bargain or acquittal.
How Serious is the Public Intoxication Offense in Florida?
While this offense is a misdemeanor, repeat offenders risk being committed to a treatment center. What’s more, it comes with a criminal record. If any landlord or employer does a background check on you, they might see it as a red flag.
Convicts of public intoxication are likely to experience hardship when looking for professional licensing, housing, or employment. Accused persons that want to guarantee the quality of their lives in Tampa, FL, should invest in defense teams that can give them the best possible outcomes.
What Does It Take to Convict Me with Public Intoxication?
Mere consumption of alcohol does not always constitute public intoxication. The alcohol needs to have affected your mental faculties, your body, or both. Therefore, the state needs to prove that you:
- Drank or had drunk an alcoholic beverage, controlled substances, or drugs
- Caused disturbances to the public
- Endangered the safety or life of another person
The threshold of this offense is defined in Chapter 29.1 of the Florida laws. And sometimes, people are charged even when their actions do not amount to the violation. Working with a drug crimes lawyer in Tampa that deeply understands the law is an added advantage for your case and its defense.
What Penalties Can I Avoid with a Good Defense?
Public intoxication is usually charged as a second-degree misdemeanor in Tampa. If the court is convinced that you meet all the statutory requirements for a conviction, you risk:
- Paying fines of up to $500
- Staying in jail for up to 60 days
- Probation for up to 6 months
And if you are convicted for the third time within 12 months, you might be considered a habitual offender. The judge might order you to also stay in a treatment center for up to 60 days. But with proper representation from a Tampa drug crimes attorney, you can easily avoid these eventualities.
What Defense Approaches Are Possible for Public Intoxication?
Strategic defense involves picking the one defense that fits the context of the incidence. This requires legal knowledge and experience and does not involve using blanket defenses across all cases of similar nature. Some common defenses include:
- The alleged incidence did not constitute a public disturbance
- The alleged incident did not happen in a public place
- The safety of people or property was not endangered
- There is no sufficient evidence for intoxication
- You were not in a public place
- Free speech guaranteed in the first amendment
Apart from the above defense, you can also argue that your constitutional rights were violated. Reluctance by the police to adhere to the proper arrest procedures can have a case thrown out of court. They should remind you of your rights and allow you to speak to your attorney.
To What Extent Can I Use Free Speech as a Defense?
Arguably, the freedom for free speech given in the first amendment doesn’t stop when intoxicated. Therefore, you cannot be convicted for mere statements or words you uttered in your drunken state. But if you say certain words that would risk people’s lives or property destruction, you might lose on this defense.
An example is shouting “fire” in a public theatre. A stampede of people anxious about getting burnt in a fire can cause both injuries and destruction of the theatre’s amenities. This argument can be applied selectively, and the guidance of a drug crimes lawyer in Tampa would be helpful.
What Places Qualify as Public Spaces?
The issue of what is considered public and what is not can be confusing. The definition of public space is any place where the general public has a right to enter and leave. So, if you are charged for public intoxication in a place that you don’t think fits the context of a public place, you can use it as a defense.
Should the police arrest you on your front porch or any other private property, they cannot possibly sustain their charges against you in court. Only incidences occurring in public settings can suit this offense. A Tampa drug crimes lawyer can convince the prosecution to drop your charges on these grounds.
What Meets the Threshold of Public Endangerment?
A lack of public endangerment can be used as a legal defense in Florida. An example is a drunk guy that went to the police station distraught over a relationship with an employee at the station. He was asked to leave, but he later returned and was arrested and charged with public intoxication.
The state’s failure to prove that the guy’s action amounted to public endangerment had him acquitted. So, if your actions posed no danger to the general public, you can use it as a worthy defense to escape a conviction in Tampa.
A Defense Lawyer Fighting for the Accused
Public intoxication charges have several things that need proof before a conviction. Therefore, your actions may meet one or two conditions and fail on the third. And a conviction cannot be successful unless your acts meet the legal definition of the crime.
You won’t have someone to challenge the loopholes in the state’s half—baked arguments without an expert legal representative. So, make sure you invest in your defense to have an attorney who can fight and secure your freedom and keep your records clean. Get in touch today!