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The Consequences of Public Drunkenness; Don’t Cross The Line!

There’s nothing quite like a night out on the town. Going out for drinks with friends is a great way to decompress after a long week of work, and beer at a ball game is practically tradition; but what happens when harmless tipsiness and good natured carousing in a public setting get out of hand, or even become dangerous? Today we’ll be examining the legal consequences of public drunkenness.

The Prerequisites

Public drunkenness, also known as drunken disorderly, is a misdemeanor crime only enforceable under certain circumstances. Simply being intoxicated in public isn’t a crime at all; you can only be charged if all three of the following criteria are met:

  1. You must have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  2. You must have been in a public setting
  3. You must have been causing a disturbance or posing a threat to yourself or others 

If the prosecution can prove that all three of these conditions were met, you can be found guilty of public drunkenness.

The Punishments for Public Drunkenness

The punishments for public drunkenness range in severity to match the seriousness of the offense. In lighter cases, such as minor annoyances and noise disturbances, you might end up with a fine. Unlike the average parking ticket, fines for drunken disorderly are hefty, often ranging from $500-$1000, and will increase significantly with repeat offenses. In more serious cases of public drunkenness, such as aggressive and dangerous behavior, sentencing can include jail time and community service. 

Find A Legal Representative

Because the criteria for a drunken disorderly conviction are somewhat ambiguous, a good defense attorney can be instrumental in getting the case dismissed, or at least significantly reduced. If you’re in danger of being convicted, you should seek legal help immediately! Good legal counsel will help you understand your position and give you a fighting chance to prove your innocence.

Specific consequences vary state by state, so hiring a defense attorney is essential to understanding exactly what the ramifications of public drunkenness are in your particular state. If you or a loved one are facing charges for public drunkenness in New Jersey, Mark Catanzaro is well versed in Jersey specific laws and can help you resolve your conflict.


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