Is Public Intoxication Really a Crime in Florida?
So, you went out to a ball game or another event with a few friends and had a few drinks. You never imagined it would result in charges being filed against you. This is a situation people find themselves in all too often in Orlando. So, is public intoxication really a crime in Florida? Yes, it is, but the offense has a very specific definition and there are defenses available. If you have been charged, it is important to speak to an Orlando criminal defense lawyer that can help you avoid a permanent criminal record.
What is Disorderly Intoxication?
Public intoxication is known as disorderly intoxication in Florida. Under the Florida Statutes, Chapter 856, Section 856.011, it is a criminal offense to consume alcohol in a public place. It is also a criminal offense to become intoxicated within a public place to the extent that the person places themselves or others in danger. The law also states that no one can consume alcohol on a public conveyance, such as a city bus, and cause a disturbance.
Penalties for Disorderly Intoxication
It may sound as though disorderly intoxication is not a serious crime, and that is true to some extent. The official penalties are quite small and include up to 90 days in jail, a $250 fine, or both. In most cases, a police officer will simply take someone home to give them time to sober up, or to an appropriate treatment facility.
Still, a conviction does carry the real possibility of jail time, which is the worst-case scenario. Even if you are not sentenced to jail time after a conviction, you will still have a criminal record that may follow you around for the rest of your life. Also, disorderly intoxication may also result in other alcohol-related charges. For example, if you became publicly intoxicated and then got into your car and drove away, you could also face a DUI charge. This is much more serious and will carry very harsh penalties.
Possible Defenses to Disorderly Intoxication
Like most criminal offenses, there are many possible defenses to disorderly intoxication. These may include:
- You were not intoxicated: You can argue that you were not intoxicated at the time of the arrest, although this is sometimes difficult to prove. If you took a blood alcohol test, these results may be able to show you were not drunk.
- You were not in a public place: If you were on private property, you cannot be charged with disorderly intoxication. You also cannot be coerced into entering public property. For example, a police officer cannot ask you to move from your driveway to the sidewalk so they can arrest you for disorderly intoxication.
- There was no harm: If you were not bothering anyone, you cannot be charged with disorderly intoxication. Witness testimony is often helpful in proving that you were not a nuisance.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orlando Can Help You Beat Your Charges
If you have been charged with disorderly intoxication, our Orlando criminal lawyer at O’Mara Law Group can help. We will devise a solid strategy to help you beat the charges, and avoid the consequences a criminal conviction will bring. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.