Public Intoxication

Public Intoxication Lawyer in Northern Virginia


In Virginia, it is illegal to be intoxicated in public or drunk in public. The terms are largely interchangeable. A person who is intoxicated in public either as a result of alcohol, drugs, or other medication puts not only themselves but others in danger, which is why public intoxication is a criminal offense (Virginia code 18.2-388). Although being drunk in public may not seem like a serious charge, it can have hefty consequences.

Have you been charged with public intoxication? Make sure you understand the charge and how to defend your rights in court. Contact J. Madison PLC for a team with experience in these types of cases. Our attorneys will analyze your case and create an excellent strategy for defending your charge.

What Constitutes a Drunk in Public Charge?

There are two important parts to a drunk in public charge: the definition of intoxication and the definition of public. A person is considered intoxicated if they have consumed so much alcohol that it affects their manner, speech, disposition, muscular movement, general appearance, or behavior. In other words, intoxication doesn’t mean that you have to be fall-down drunk. It just means that you have to be observably affected by alcohol. A person is in public if they are somewhere in open view, visible to others nearby. The prosecution, therefore, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated in a public place using these definitions. Understanding these two definitions is crucial to understanding your drunk in public charge and knowing how to defend against it.

Charges Related to Drunk in Public

Because being intoxicated hinders an individual’s judgment, there are a variety of charges that may also apply to someone charged with public intoxication. They may commit assault and battery (18.2-57), driving under the influence (18.2-266), destruction of property (18.2-137), and other related criminal charges.

Especially when paired with some of these offenses, public intoxication can have significant consequences. It’s important that you understand any and all additional charges related to your drunk in public case.

Drunk in Public Penalties

Drunk in Public is a class four misdemeanor under the Virginia Code. That means that it is punishable by a fine of up to $250. While this fine may seem unserious, there are other possible consequences. The fine does not completely encompass the stain on your reputation and job prospects that a criminal conviction could impose. A criminal conviction could also affect your ability to get or maintain a security clearance.

Defending Against a Drunk in Public Charge

Because being drunk in public is punishable by only a fine, you may believe it’s not a serious charge. You may figure you can simply pay the ticket and move on. However, paying the ticket means pleading guilty to a class 4 misdemeanor! It’s crucial that you understand your charge and your associated rights before paying the ticket.

Don’t let a one-time mistake compromise your future. Consult with an experienced public intoxication attorney to determine your ability to fight the charge. J. Madison PLC’s legal team will work closely with you and fight to have your charges diminished or dismissed.

J. Madison PLC: Fighting for You

J. Madison PLC is a law firm in Northern Virginia that provides both employment and criminal legal defense services. Our attorneys are experienced, compassionate, and will make you their number one priority at every step of the way.

If you’re facing a public intoxication charge, make sure you come to court with the best legal defense possible. Contact J. Madison PLC today at (703) 910-5062.

Former Arlington County prosecutor Benjamin R. Inman leads J. Madison PLC's criminal defense practice.

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