Many cases that make their way through the courts of Criminal Defense involve the use of alcohol in cases such as Public Drunkenness. assault crimes One of the less serious offenses involving substances is public drunkenness and similar misconduct. This statute is defined under section 5505 of the Pa criminal code. An individual can be charged with this offense if they are in a public place manifestly under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance to the degree that they are a harm to themselves or others or property or they are annoying people in their vicinity. It is a common misconception that simply being drunk in a public setting is illegal. As defined in this statute that is not necessarily the case. In order for an individual to be charged with this offense they must be so intoxicated that it puts them at harm, others at harm, or they must act in a manner that, as the statute puts it, annoys someone. Some examples of acts that might put the individual who is intoxicated in harm’s way are falling asleep outside in the cold or stumbling into traffic. Stumbling into traffic could also be considered putting others in harm’s way as well because it increases the risk for an accident to occur.
In terms of Criminal Defense and the statute of Public Drunkenness, the last piece of the statute referring to the annoyance of others is very broad and can encompass a whole host of behavior which are just general nesciences. false statement to law enforcement It is important to note that direct evidence such as a breathalyzer result, is not needed to prove that an individual was intoxicated. Public drunkenness cases typically are proved using circumstantial evidence. Past cases have set a precedent that circumstantial evidence is enough to convict an individual charged with this offense. While being charged with public drunkenness is only a summary offense, the penalties can still be steep. A fine of up to $500 and 90 days in jail can be imposed. The penalties get steeper for repeat offenses. Even though it is only a summary offense, it will still show up on background checks. In some cases, it is possible to have the offense expunged after 5 years without any other offenses but it doesn’t always happen. To give yourself the best possible outcome it is important to have good legal representation. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Kelly and Conte are the best choice for your legal needs.