It is an all-too-common scenario – you are out with friends at a George Mason University basketball game or enjoying a meal at Coastal Flats in Fairfax Corner when your excited behavior is misconstrued as belligerence representative of intoxication. This may result in Fairfax police charging you with being drunk in public (also referred to as public intoxication).
According to Virginia Code § 18.2-388, if someone “profanely curses or swears” or is considered to be “intoxicated in public, whether such intoxication results from alcohol, narcotic drug or other intoxicant or drug of whatever nature,” they can be charged with public intoxication. This charge is a Class 4 misdemeanor and, if convicted, can leave you with a criminal record.
Taking the Easy Way Out Can Harm Your Long-Term Future
Under Virginia law, a Class 4 misdemeanor is only punishable by a monetary fine. In many instances, you can simply pay the fine and never step foot in a courthouse. In other instances, the monetary fine is limited to an amount up to $250.
However, if you believe you were wrongly charged with being drunk in public, you can, and should, consider challenging the charges in court. If you decide to simply pay the monetary penalty without going to a Fairfax court, you are effectively admitting guilt and that conviction will remain on your permanent record.
Prior Conviction Increases Penalties
Another important consideration is whether you have a prior conviction. If so, you are not looking at a simple monetary fine. If you were previously convicted of other alcohol or drug-related criminal offenses in Virginia, you could be fined of up to $2,500 and be ordered to serve up to one year in jail, or both. The decision on whether to order a defendant to serve jail time for this offense depends on the specific circumstances of the case.
What Must Be Proven to Convict Someone of Public Intoxication?
Standing up and fighting for your rights with the assistance of an aggressive Fairfax public intoxication defense attorney is worth consideration because the burden of conviction is on the government. That means the state prosecutor (in Virginia, they are known as Commonwealth Attorneys) must prove that you were public intoxicated beyond a reasonable doubt in court. This means that they show that you were (i) in public and (ii) intoxicated. This legal standard creates potential defenses your attorney can raise on your behalf. For example, if you were in your home and you were ordered to come outside by police, then you could make a good faith argument that you were not “in public” when you were charged. Another potential defense is that you were not, in fact, intoxicated. For example, there are circumstances where someone was taking a prescription medication and that medication altered their behavior.
Take Action Today – Contact an Experienced Drunk In Public Defense Lawyer with the DUA Law Firm in Fairfax, VA
As you can see, there are viable defenses you and your Fairfax drunk in public defense lawyer can raise to challenge a public intoxication charge in Virginia. That is why it makes sense to retain the services of the DUA Law Firm. Our legal team possesses years of experience in the Fairfax, Virginia area and are fully capable of providing strategic solutions to your public intoxication charge.
Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced and aggressive Fairfax defense attorney today. Contact our office day or night at (703) 382-7300.