Charlotte Public Intoxication Lawyer

Charlotte Public Intoxication Lawyer

In Charlotte, you cannot be charged with a crime for only being intoxicated in public. However, police officers do have the ability to take you into protective custody for being publicly intoxicated. You must commit certain actions and engage in disruptive behavior to be charged with an offense. If that happens, an experienced Charlotte public intoxication lawyer can provide you with a strong criminal defense.

Instigating fights or blocking public walkways or roadways while publicly intoxicated is considered disruptive, which is a crime. Although the charge may seem very minimal to some, it’s important to treat every criminal charge seriously.

Even if you only face a fine, being convicted of the crime can result in a permanent criminal record. This can affect several aspects of your life, including your employment, housing, and education. The most effective way to avoid these consequences is to avoid a conviction or limit the penalties of one.

Best Charlotte Public Intoxication Lawyer

Charlotte Public Intoxication Defense From The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett

At The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett, our team works hard to protect individuals in Charlotte and the nearby communities. We are proud to represent the rights and future of those charged with crimes in the area. Our team believes that everyone deserves to have their interests represented in court by effective and dedicated defense attorneys.

For over 34 years, our firm has provided quality legal counsel across many areas of criminal defense law. We use this experience, as well as our knowledge of and professional relationships with the local court systems, in your favor.

Our team is committed to the people and families we represent, and we work from arrest to trial to bring them effective legal counsel. We review the unique situation of each individual we represent to find the ideal defense. Intoxicated and disruptive in public charges may not seem like the most serious of offenses, but the impact they can have on your life can be severe. Our firm works to resolve the case in your favor out of court, but we can take it to trial if necessary.

Is Public Intoxication a Crime in North Carolina?

No, public intoxication by itself is not a crime in North Carolina. However, there are several actions that someone can take while intoxicated in public that can result in criminal charges. Even if a person is not disruptive, they may be taken into protective custody or otherwise escorted away for being intoxicated in public.

A public place includes any location that is open to the public, even when the location is privately owned. These include:

  • Walkways
  • Roadways
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Retail stores
  • Governmental buildings
  • Office buildings

Being intoxicated means being visibly under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any other controlled substance. It could even be a prescription drug. Although someone cannot be arrested and charged for being intoxicated with no disruptive behavior, they can be taken into protective custody and given a citation by law enforcement. They may be kept in protective custody for 24 hours or until they are sober.

Police officers may also escort an intoxicated individual to:

  • A shelter
  • The individual’s home or residence
  • A medical facility, if treatment is necessary

What Is the Statute of Public Intoxication in North Carolina?

An individual must engage in certain disorderly behavior for their actions to be criminal. The state law that being intoxicated and disruptive includes engaging in the following behaviors while under the influence of drugs or alcohol:

  • Blocking or preventing movement of traffic on a highway, roadway, or other public area for vehicles
  • Blocking, laying in, or otherwise preventing access to or movement across a building’s entrance or a sidewalk
  • Instigating fights with others through challenging, shoving, grabbing, or pushing
  • Shouting, cursing, or insulting others
  • Begging for money or other types of property

If a police officer deems it necessary, protective custody may also be necessary in addition to pressing criminal charges for intoxicated and disruptive conduct.

Penalties Associated With Intoxicated and Disruptive Charges

If you are charged and convicted of being intoxicated and disruptive in public, it is a Class 3 misdemeanor. This is the least serious form of misdemeanor in the state. The penalties can include:

  • Up to 10 days in jail
  • Up to $200 in fines

Additionally, you will have costs from court fees, potential probation or community service, and a criminal record. If you have a prior conviction of intoxicated and disruptive behavior, you could face jail time for up to 20 days.

The fines associated with these charges may be simple to pay for some individuals, but it’s beneficial to avoid the charge if possible. Even a simple misdemeanor will show up in an employment background check, which can impact your current employment or harm future job opportunities.

A criminal record can also affect your housing opportunities and your ability to obtain a loan, among other limitations. Although a fine or a jail sentence may be resolved fairly quickly, a criminal record can impact your entire future. This is why it’s essential to obtain criminal defense from an experienced attorney. Working with a defense lawyer gives you the greatest chance of limiting or clearing the charges against you, thus avoiding the effects of a criminal record.

Intoxicated and disruptive conduct charges frequently are charged along with other crimes for disorderly conduct, which can increase the fines and other penalties you face. Being publicly intoxicated is also often related to driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges, which is incredibly dangerous for the intoxicated individual, others in their vehicle, and anyone else on the road.

DWIs in Charlotte

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a very serious charge in North Carolina, and it can sometimes be charged along with intoxicated and disruptive charges. A DWI is a very serious charge. The penalties for a DWI depend on the number of aggravating and mitigating factors present, but it can result in $200 to $1,000 in fines and 24 hours to 6 months in jail. These penalties increase if there are gross aggravating factors present.

How Does a Public Intoxication Attorney Benefit Me?

You have the right to legal counsel when facing criminal charges. Without legal counsel, you will be facing state prosecutors alone. Even if you have experience with criminal defense, it can be an incredibly stressful experience to defend yourself and protect your own interests. For most people facing intoxicated and disruptive charges, facing the criminal justice system is a new and overwhelming experience. By working with an attorney, you are giving yourself your greatest chance at success.

Without an attorney, you will have to craft a defense for your charges, gather evidence, and argue against the prosecution. A criminal defense attorney can manage all these things and handle any necessary legal deadlines. An attorney has the resources needed to gather evidence and the knowledge to build an effective defense that is relevant to your unique situation.

A criminal attorney brings several benefits, including:

  • Negotiating with the prosecution. A criminal defense attorney has established professional relationships with the local prosecutors on your case. Attorneys also have significant experience negotiating with the prosecution, and they may be able to obtain a reduction of your charges, a dismissal of charges, or a favorable plea deal before the case even goes to trial.
  • Creating a strong defense. Criminal defense attorneys with experience in disorderly conduct and intoxicated and disruptive charges know the various legal defenses for the charge. They can determine which defense most effectively applies to your situation. Your attorney can also review police or accident reports, interview witnesses and professionals, and gather other evidence to support your case.
  • Court representation. If your case cannot be settled through negotiation, it will proceed to criminal court. This can be very stressful, especially if you have never faced criminal charges before. Your defense attorney can represent you, protect your rights, and present your defense to advocate for the most beneficial outcome to the case.

By working with a defense attorney based in Charlotte and the nearby area, you have a legal professional who has a deep understanding of the federal, state, and local laws that may apply to your case.

Alcoholism as a Defense Against Drunk and Disruptive Behavior Charges

One legal defense that is largely unique to the state is the defense of alcoholism. Under state law, suffering from alcoholism is a legitimate defense for being found to be intoxicated and disruptive in public. The judge on the case will consider this defense in any case. For this defense to be successful, the individual being charged must have a history of alcoholism.

The individual’s history with alcohol may be evaluated by a counselor. If they are not convicted of the criminal charges due to the alcoholism defense, the court must then determine if they are a substance abuser who is a danger to themselves or others. The court may rule on the same day as the acquittal or up to 15 days after. The court may then require the defendant to seek treatment or counseling.

Other Options for Dismissal of Charges

There are other ways to have intoxicated and disruptive charges against you dropped, limited, or dismissed, other than an alcoholism defense. These include:

  • Lack of probable cause. If a police officer did not have cause to arrest you, this can be a very effective defense. You may have been intoxicated in public but did not engage in any disruptive behaviors. Although an officer can take you into protective custody, they cannot press charges for simply being intoxicated in public. If there is not enough evidence to suggest that you were being disruptive at the time of the arrest, this may also indicate a lack of probable cause.
  • Lack of prosecutorial evidence. If the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were both intoxicated in public and being disruptive, the charges could be dismissed.
  • Mental health issues. Like the alcoholism defense, you may be able to get charges dismissed if you have a diagnosed history of a mental health disorder that caused your behavior. You may instead be required to complete counseling.
  • Pre-trial diversion. You may be able to complete alternate sentencing, like counseling or community service, in place of a conviction.

The defense that is right for you will rely on the unique situation of your case and your arrest. Your attorney can review your circumstances to decide the ideal course of action for your legal defense.

What Do You Do If You Are Arrested for Intoxicated and Disruptive Conduct?

It’s essential to protect your legal rights after any arrest. If you are arrested for being intoxicated and disruptive, there are certain things you should do. These include:

  • Remain calm. Be cooperative with police officers, but do not provide information.
  • Request an attorney. You have a right to legal counsel, and you should inform the officers that you are exercising that right.
  • Do not answer questions. Exercise your right to silence after the arrest, and wait until your attorney provides you with guidance.
  • Work with your attorney on your defense. Your attorney is there to defend your interests.
  • Be present for your hearings. Missing a court date can result in significant penalties and additional charges.

What Is Disorderly Conduct in North Carolina?

Charges for intoxication and disruptive behavior are often charged at the same time as disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct covers several crimes in Charlotte. These include:

  • Provoking, instigating, or engaging in fights or violence
  • Taking possession of or refusing to exit a public vehicle or facility, such as in a non-violent sit-in
  • Interfering with or disturbing a funeral, a memorial service, a school bus, or student education in public or private educational facilities

These crimes are also called disturbing the peace, and an offense can be charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor. A second offense may be charged as a felony. A conviction may result in months to a year in jail and $1,000 or more in fines.

Defend Your Rights With an Experienced Charlotte Defense Attorney

It’s essential to your future to do all you can to avoid a permanent criminal record. Your greatest chance at avoiding a conviction is to work with an experienced private attorney. Contact The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett to see how we can help with your public intoxication and disruptive behavior charges.


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