Mississippi Public Intoxication Defense Lawyers
After being charged with public intoxication, also called public drunkenness, you may be feeling frustrated and embarrassed. The charges might seem silly or minor on the surface, but a conviction could land you in jail or cost you some money. Further, any arrest or conviction has the potential to impact your future, especially if you are a college student.
But it is possible to challenge public intoxication charges and win. With the right strategies and the right attorney, you can avoid severe punishment and keep your record clean.
The legal team at Tannehill, Carmean & McKenzie has developed winning strategies for handling public intoxication cases. We represent clients throughout the Oxford, MS area, including students at the University of Mississippi. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Drunkenness in Public Places in Mississippi
Charges like being drunk in public have to do with public nuisance and intoxication. In general, the person being arrested is being aggressive, obnoxious, or is violating the rights of others or the rules of a particular establishment.
In Mississippi, public intoxication is unlawful and generally covered by a universal citation. According to Miss. Code Annotated 97-29-47, it is unlawful to be drunk or use profanity in a public place in the presence of two or more people.
As crimes go, public drunkenness may not seem serious. It is a misdemeanor and not a felony. But, if you are convicted, you could face up to 30 days in jail and fines of up to $100. You can also end up with additional long-term consequences that can impact your ability to continue your education or live and work where you choose.
What is Considered Public?
It should go without saying that you should be able to leave a bar, restaurant, or nightclub to secure a safe ride home without getting arrested. But this doesn’t always happen. When alcohol is involved, the possibilities are nearly unlimited.
For legal purposes, in cases involving public intoxication, the public is defined as a place where two or more persons are present. If you’re intoxicated in a public place, like a park, but no one else is around, the situation wouldn’t qualify under the letter of the law.
The idea is that drunkenness can be disruptive to others or place others in danger. So, there must be two or more people present for you to be charged with this crime. Unfortunately, those other people can include your friends, which doesn’t quite seem fair.
How Police Identify and Charge Public Intoxication
The police might already be on the scene, but they will often get called when there are large crowds, rowdy people, and the potential for conflict. If you plan to fight a public drunkenness charge, it’s important to understand that these charges are largely subjective. There is no field sobriety test or breathalyzer given to a suspect before an arrest. If an officer believes you are drunk in a public place and causing a disturbance or a threat to the safety of others, they will likely charge you with this offense.
Police look for a variety of signs when determining whether someone is intoxicated. These include things like slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and stumbling. The person might smell like alcohol and be particularly loud and rowdy. But how a person interacts with the police is also important. If they are angry and defiant, there will more likely be criminal charges.
Legal Defenses to Public Drunkenness Charges
While you’re unlikely to go to jail for a public intoxication charge, it’s still something you’ll want to take seriously. After you’ve been charged with public drunkenness, you’ll generally be given a court date. It’s a good idea to speak with a Mississippi criminal defense attorney who can help you avoid a conviction.
Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to convince the judge that you were not intoxicated, were not a danger to yourself or others, or were not actually in public at the time of the arrest. These are valid arguments if you were charged near your home or another private residence. Alternatively, we can show that you have received appropriate counseling and do not require further consequences or punishment from the court.
With a charge like this, it might be tempting to defend yourself or rely on a public defender. Neither is a sound strategy. You need an attorney that has experience with these cases and one who will devote the time and resources necessary to help you achieve a positive outcome.
As if a public drunkenness charge isn’t enough to deal with, you might be facing additional charges that could make your situation even worse. Some public intoxication charges are in addition to charges for things like vandalism, assault, and DUI. In short, you could be facing additional misdemeanor or felony charges that have the potential for steep fines and even a jail or prison sentence.
Consequences for University of Mississippi Students
If you are a student at the University of Mississippi and are arrested for an alcohol-related crime, you may be facing additional consequences. According to the University’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Sanction Policy, the school has the right to impose sanctions on a student based on events that happen both on and off-campus. Sanctions can include the loss of financial aid, residence hall status, athletic participation eligibility, academic suspension, and even expulsion. If you are notified of a student conduct hearing before the University Judicial Council, you have the right to an attorney, and our firm can represent your interests.
Speak With a Qualified Oxford Public Intoxication Attorney
Public drunkenness is a charge you need to take seriously. The consequences of a conviction could be long-lasting. But you have rights that we recommend you exercise. Since every case is unique, it’s essential that you speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after the arrest.
At Tannehill, Carmean & McKenzie, we have extensive experience dealing with these charges on behalf of clients. We can also represent your interest in front of the Judicial Council if you are a University student and subject to a disciplinary hearing. Call our Oxford office today at (662) 200-8731 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.