Many Texans will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Irish food and green beer this year, but it’s important not to let your partying get out of hand, or you could potentially face two charges: disorderly conduct and public intoxication. In this post, we’ll detail the charges and penalties for you.
Disorderly Conduct in Texas
With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday this year, many people could be partying two days or more, and things may get rowdy. Be careful, though. Losing control can land you in jail and cost you significant fines.
In a recent St. Patrick’s Day case, six people were arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct for engaging in a fight outside a club in North Carolina. If you are drunk and you throw punches on a sidewalk in Texas, you’ll potentially face even more charges – for public intoxication. Here are some examples of what drunk and disorderly conduct can be:
- Blocking sidewalks, building entrances, or traffic
- Making false calls to 911 or silent calls to anyone, or sounding a fire alarm without reason
- Using language that is “abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar” in public, which is likely to start a fight
- Using obscene gestures that increase the risk of physical fighting
- Making verbal threats or abuse to someone else that is obviously intended to offend
- Getting into fights with one or more other people
- Engaging in a riot
- Exposing yourself in a reckless manner that offends others
- Making unreasonable noise above 85 decibels in a public place or a private residence that does not belong to you
- Using chemicals to create an unreasonable and noxious odor
- Peeking into another person’s home or hotel room, or a private restroom, dressing room, or shower for lewd purposes
- Displaying or firing a gun with an intent to scare others
As you may notice, disorderly conduct charges apply to many situations, both in public and private places.
A police officer may simply issue a citation and keep you in custody until you get sober. However, you might not get lucky this St. Patrick’s Day and could end up facing a charge for disorderly conduct.
Public Intoxication in Texas
Under Texas law, an individual can be charged with public intoxication if the person is in a public place and is intoxicated to the point that danger is posed to the individual and/or others.
A juvenile can also be charged with public intoxication and will be penalized as an adult if convicted.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Charges in Texas
In Texas, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor offense. First time offenses normally involve fines and possibly probation. However, it is different from other misdemeanor charges because you can be arrested even if the officer didn’t see you actually commit the offense. If you are in a suspicious area and the officer has probable cause that you were committing an offense, you can be charged.
Most disorderly conduct charges are Class C misdemeanors. Public intoxication is also a Class C misdemeanor. A conviction will result in a fine of up to $500 and possible probation. Under certain circumstances, you could face a Class B misdemeanor, which involves penalties of up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
Defenses to Disorderly Conduct and Public Intoxication Charges
Depending on the circumstances of your individual case, your attorney may choose to use one or more of the following defenses to get your charges reduced or dropped.
- Your language was not intended to provoke a fight
- You acted in self defense
- You were falsely accused
- You did not act with lewd intent, if you are charged with peeping
- You did not know anyone was able to see you when you exposed yourself
- Your doctor had prescribed a controlled substance
Whatever your situation, you need the help of an experienced Texas defense attorney to fight your charges.
If you are convicted of your charges and face the full extent of the penalties, you may end up in jail and pay significant fines. This can limit your ability to attend school, keep your job, apply for new jobs, and negatively affect your credit for years to come. Worse, if you ever face another conviction, your prior misdemeanor charge can lead to tougher sentencing in that case.
That’s why it’s important to get help from a skilled lawyer for charges of disorderly conduct or public intoxication. Call us today for a free case review. We’ll work hard to get your charges reduced or dismissed to prevent them from negatively impacting your future.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.