Dallas County Criminal Defense Attorney Answers the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Public Intoxication

It is not against the law to have a drink and walk up and down the streets of Dallas or any other Texas town for the matter. However, if you have a few too many drinks and trip and fall or become rowdy while out in public, you may have crossed the line between legal behavior and “public intoxication.” While public intoxication is not a serious offense in Texas, it can be quite embarrassing and have damaging outcomes. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions Dallas residents have about public intoxication:

What does it mean legally, to be publically intoxicated?

According to the Texas Penal Code, a person is considered to be publically intoxicated if he or she appears to be intoxicated to such a degree, that he or she poses a serious risk to him or herself or others.

What is considered a “public place”?

Texas law defines a public place as any location that is open to the public. This includes commonly thought of public places, like streets, sidewalks and parks. However, the definition of “public places” also includes, places like bars, clubs and restaurants. Even the common areas of apartment complexes, hotels and hospitals meet the law’s definition of “public places.”

What penalties can a person charged with public intoxication face?

A first time offense of public intoxication is considered to be a Class C misdemeanor. As such, a person who pleads guilty to this offense can face a maximum fine of up to $500. If a person charged with public intoxication has three or more prior convictions for the offense within the previous 24 months, he or she could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. This more serious charge is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in the local jail.

Are DWI and public intoxication different?

Public intoxication and driving while intoxicated are completely separate offenses. If a person is charged with DWI and the prosecutor is unable to prove its case against the person, the charges cannot be reduced to ‘public intoxication.’

Should I hire an attorney if I am charged with public intoxication?

Unfortunately, often people who are charged with public intoxication think that there is no point in hiring an attorney to challenge the charges because they face no jail time and the fine is minimal. But, while the offense may only be a misdemeanor, it can pose some serious consequences. If found guilty, the charge will appear on the person’s criminal record. Which means that a person may have to disclose the offense to potential employers on job applications, on forms to receive government or financial assistance, and even to college or universities on admissions applications. In choosing to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, the attorney will not only fight to protect your rights, he or she will also work to keep your criminal record clear.

If you have been arrested and charged public intoxication it is important that you understand your rights. Only an experienced Dallas County Criminal Defense Attorney can review the charges against you and determine your best course of action. For more than 30 years Attorney Jack Pettit has provided aggressive representation for clients charged with both misdemeanor and felony criminal charges. As a former prosecutor, attorney Jack Pettit can provide you with the superior legal representation you need when facing criminal charges. To schedule a free and confidential consultation contact the Law Offices of Jack Pettit today at (214) 521-4567. Our office provides services to clients in both English and Spanish. Major credit cards are accepted as well.


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