drunk in public in Alabama

How Serious Are Public Intoxication Charges in Alabama?

Having a drink or two and then walking down the street, hanging out in the park, or enjoying another public space may not seem like a crime. But in Alabama, public intoxication is indeed a serious offense, and one that can carry consequences if an offender is arrested and convicted. If you’ve been charged with public intoxication in our state, our criminal defense lawyers can help you to understand just how serious the charges you’re facing are, as well as what your defense options are. Reach out to our lawyers today to learn more.

Defining Public Intoxication in Alabama

Public intoxication is a pretty easy idea to understand. Per Alabama Code 13A-11-10, public intoxication is defined as:

Appear[ing] in a public place under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or other drug to the degree that [the person] endangers himself or another person on the property, or by boisterous and offensive conduct annoys another person in [the] vicinity.

In other words, in order to convict someone of public intoxication, the prosecution must be able to prove that:

  • The defendant was in a public place;
  • The defendant was under the influence of alcohol or another drug; and
  • The defendant endangered himself/herself or another person or property; or
  • The defendant annoyed another party with boisterous and offensive conduct.

Of the above, the last two points, especially the latter, are relatively subjective.

Penalties for Public Intoxication in Alabama

The good news for someone who is facing a charge of public intoxication is that the state of Alabama considers it to be a violation, not a misdemeanor or felony offense. According to Alabama law, a fine for a violation shall be fixed by the court but should not be an amount that exceeds $200. A violation can also result in an immediate consequence of up to 30 days in jail.

While 30 days in jail and a $200 fine may not seem that bad in comparison to the penalties for misdemeanor or felony offenses, note that the real consequences of a public intoxication conviction don’t end there. Even merely having an arrest (let alone a conviction) on your record could make it harder for you to get a job or pursue other opportunities you’re interested in. In addition, if you are involved in a civil suit, such as a child custody case, a conviction could be used against you and hurt the outcome of your case.

All Charges Should Always Be Taken Seriously

At the Alsobrook Law Group, our Alabama criminal defense lawyers believe that all charges, whether violations, misdemeanors, or felonies, should always be taken seriously. You never know how an arrest and a conviction on your record could affect you down the line, even if the immediate consequences don’t seem “that bad.” As such, we recommend hiring a lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested.

Your attorney can help you to explore your defense options, including showing to the court that you weren’t in a public space (e.g., you were on your front porch, which is private property), that you weren’t intoxicated (does the prosecution have blood or breath evidence against you?), that you had no intention of breaking the law, that you were not endangering anyone else or yourself, or that you weren’t being unreasonably annoying or boisterous. If a conviction looks imminent, we can also help you to understand how to get the least severe sentence possible.

Our Lawyers Are Here to Serve You

At the Alsobrook Law Group, our experienced Alabama criminal defense attorneys know that being charged with a crime is scary and unsettling. If you are facing criminal charges, you don’t have to face them alone. When you call our experienced attorneys, we will work with you to build your case and protect your legal and Constitutional rights. While the criminal justice system is designed well, we know that it is not always fair, especially to those who don’t have skilled legal representation.

To learn more about how to protect yourself if you’re facing public intoxication charges, please call our firm today at (334) 737-3718 or message us through our online contact form. We are here to serve you.