Defending Citizens from Overzealous Officers in Forth Worth, Tarrant County and Surrounding Cities.
If you have been arrested for Public Intoxication (PI) in Texas, it is incredibly important to know what the State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you.
If you analyze public intoxication law in Texas, you find that the crime is an opinion crime, making it very subjective in nature. In other words, it is based upon the police officer’s opinion of you. What if the police officer doesn’t like you? While there is certainly no law against having a negative attitude toward a police officer, many people are arrested in Texas every year after having little or nothing to drink. Familiar stories of abuse of the public intoxication law in Fort Worth include people arrested for PI in local bars by officers at the end of a shift to people on the street walking home who have had no more than a single drink.
How Serious is Public Intoxication?
Public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. Additional penalties may include community service or probation, although the court has discretion as the circumstances of each case vary.
Therefore, public intoxication is a less severe offense than driving while intoxicated (DWI), a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,000. However, that doesn’t mean that public intoxication doesn’t have profound implications for your future.
Although a Public Intoxication is not as serious, it is critical to resolve your case for a dismissal. Every instance of public intoxication involves an arrest made by the police where you now have a tainted criminal record. Many employers view a criminal record with a public intoxication as a red flag of possible substance abuse. This could cost you a job opportunity or promotion in the future.
A major difference between public intoxication and DWI is the burden of proof. In the case of DWI, many people are arrested for blowing .08 or above on a breathalyzer or blood test. In contrast, public intoxication requires no such scientific evidence and relies almost exclusively on the subjective statement of an officer that someone is intoxicated.
Does Public Intoxication Go on Your Record in Texas?
No, not typically, if you handle the charge correctly with an experienced public intoxication attorney. Otherwise, even if it’s a reduced fine, paying the fine is seen as an acceptance of guilt in Texas, and the charge will go on your criminal record. In other words – NEVER PAY THE FINE! It will result in a conviction.
So how can Fulgham Law Firm P.C. help prevent public intoxication charges from ending up on your permanent criminal record? If you get charged with a crime, and you don’t want it on our record, we can take steps to try and get that criminal charge removed from the system.
One way is through an expunction case, which means asking the judge to remove or strike off your arrest record from the digital registry of public court records; this will make it so that a police officer can’t look back at your arrest without you before getting permission from a court-designated official.
It’s important to note that if you’re convicted of public intoxication (it doesn’t matter if you go to jail for it), then it does NOT disappear automatically once you’ve completed probation or paid off your fines. It remains on your record unless you’re able to get an expunction approved by the judge.
So many people call our criminal law office complaining that they need their public intoxication charge removed from their criminal record. First, you must get your case dismissed! After it is dismissed, then you can proceed with an expunction of the public intoxication arrest and charges. However, if you pay the fine, the arrest and criminal record will remain on your permanent criminal record.
How Can a Fort Worth Public Intoxication Attorney Help?
If you’ve been arrested for public intoxication in Tarrant County, call (817) 877-3030 for a free consultation. We’ll do what we can to keep you out of jail and off probation while building a defense that helps clear your name.
No Objective Standard for Public Intoxication
The Texas Public Intoxication offense has been widely criticized because the standard is so subjective it permits officers to arrest citizens whose only “offense” was to irritate the arresting officer. Under Texas Penal Code §49.02, a person commits the offense of public intoxication if the individual appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger himself or others. Unlike DWI, there is no requirement that evidence exists that one’s mental or physical faculties are adversely affected such that it affects your driving ability, nor is there an objective “per se” standard like a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent. This lack of any objective standard means that this provision is subject to abuse.
An arrest for public intoxication will often occur without the police offering to administer field sobriety tests (FSTs) or a BAC level blood chemical test via breath or blood test. The subjective nature of public intoxication under Texas law means that it is essential to retain an experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney to expose this lack of evidence to obtain an efficient dismissal of bogus charges. Many police officers on the street will concede that the reason that many people are arrested for public intoxication involves a lack of respect or a rude attitude.
Pleading Guilty or No Contest without Legal Advice Can Have Serious Consequences
When you are arrested for public intoxication, you may be given the option to obtain immediate release from jail with the suggestion that you might spend an extended period in prison if you do not plead guilty or no contest. Because the veiled threat of a prolonged stay in jail is upsetting and stressful for most people, they often agree to accept the plea deal even if they have not been drinking or have had very little to drink. While this might seem like an appealing option, people frequently get home and study the documents more closely before discovering they have been convicted of public intoxication. This conviction is a matter of public record that potential employers and landlords may use. The offense also may be punished by a fine of up to $500. The penalties increase if you have multiple convictions for PI.
At the Fulgham Law Firm P.C., we have challenged convictions under these circumstances and successfully obtained dismissal and expungement of public intoxication records. If you are arrested for public intoxication, we will carefully investigate the facts and seek to arrange your prompt release from custody.
A criminal record can have dire long-term circumstances, so pleading guilty or no contest when you have not had much to drink or do not pose a threat to your safety, or the safety of others might not be the best option. We can investigate your situation and advise you regarding the available alternatives given your specific situation. Call the Fulgham Law Firm P.C. at 817-886-3078 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a former prosecutor and experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth.
Can You Fight a Public Intoxication Charge in Texas?
Yes, if your criminal defense attorney can offer sufficient evidence that you did not meet the legal definition of intoxication at the time of arrest, then you can fight the charge.
If you are arrested for public intoxication, we will carefully investigate the facts and seek to arrange a resolution to your case that permits you to receive a dismissal and qualify for an expunction of your criminal record. A criminal record can have dire long-term circumstances, so pleading guilty or no contest when you don’t present a threat to your safety or others might not be the best option. We will explore alternatives and options based on specific factors in your case and stand up for your rights with justice and compassion.
What are the Two Elements of Public Intoxication?
Public intoxication is defined under Texas Penal Code section 49.02(a) as an individual who appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger themselves or another person. The second element of this crime requires no other available means for the person to avoid harm.
The first element of the offense involves three factors: (1) whether or not an individual is intoxicated, (2) appeared in a public place, and (3) whether appearing in such a way endangers oneself, another person, or their property.
What are Good Defenses to Public Intoxication Charges?
The best defense against public intoxication charges is a denial that one was intoxicated in a public place. Other defenses include asserting not guilty because you were not in a public place, not guilty because of mental defect, not guilty because of involuntary intoxication, or pleading emergency necessity.
Suppose an individual is accused of being intoxicated in private. In that case, it’s still possible to use the legal defense that the person consumed alcohol or drugs after arriving home or in their residence, which doesn’t constitute public intoxication.
There are additional exceptions for acceptable behavior in Texas when clients have been drinking at dinner parties and receptions hosted by churches, schools, and other establishments where heavy drinking is “the custom.”
Do you need an Attorney to Fight Your Public Intoxication Charge?
Yes, it would help if you got an attorney to fight a public intoxication charge.
Public intoxication is considered a class C misdemeanor in Texas, and it comes with the following penalties:
A person adjudged guilty of this offense may be fined up to a fine of $500. You may also be given community service; placed on probation for up to 180 days and required to take an Alcohol Awareness course as a condition of probation. The court shall consider whether the defendant is indigent before applying any fine.
The earlier you hire an attorney, the higher likelihood you’ll have of avoiding a criminal conviction.
In addition, you must have an experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights and protect you from the negative consequences of a PI charge. Call 817-877-3030 today for a free consultation with the Fulgham Law Firm P.C., where we will work to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
An Experienced Fort Worth DWI and PI Lawyer Can Fight for You
The Fulgham Law Firm P.C. handles all misdemeanor and felony cases in Tarrant County, Dallas County, Parker County, Johnson County, and Wise County. Call us at 817-877-3030 to get the justice you deserve. We will be by your side every step of the way protecting your rights and working to achieve a dismissal or reduction of charges against you.
At The Fulgham Law Firm P.C., we will fight for an individual’s rights until justice is served. Our goal is to clear our client’s criminal history records that may jeopardize their future opportunities like employment, professional licensing, enrollment, housing, or other factors.
An arrest can harm years to come. Worthless check charges, public intoxication arrests, marijuana possession charges, and felony drug charges can prevent a person from being accepted into an educational institution, receiving employment opportunities. They can even have negative consequences for international travel.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, call The Fulgham Law Firm P.C. today to schedule a free case evaluation, where we will go over the facts of your case and begin working on your behalf.
Call us right now to get help.
We’ve helped hundreds of people in Texas, and we can help you too. We’ll set you up with a free conversation with Mr. Fulgham, which will help you know what to do next. The Fulgham Law Firm serves Fort Worth and Tarrant County areas.
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