Police have wide discretion when it comes to enforcing Disorderly Conduct/Drunk in Public charges. If you are causing a disruption and the police have to intervene, you will likely be charged with a crime. Because these charges can be so subjective, a skilled Virginia disorderly conduct attorney may be able to have these charges dropped because it is difficult for the state to prove its case.
Since police can arrest you for public intoxication without using a breathalyzer, there can be a major question of reasonable doubt regarding your intoxication. If you were arrested based solely on the observation of police officers that you were acting intoxicated, an experienced Virginia public intoxication attorney will fight these charges vigorously.
Disorderly conduct and public intoxication, while associated with one another, are two distinct crimes. A person can be charged with disorderly conduct without having a drop to drink. If a person “engages in conduct having a direct tendency to cause acts of violence” in public. Therefore a person’s actions will be completely indicative of whether or not they will be charged with this crime.
If there is no physical evidence of your intoxication, we may be able to get the charges greatly reduced or even thrown out. If the state cannot prove that you were drunk and are instead relying on the subjective interpretation of the police officer, a great deal of latitude could exist to plant the seed of reasonable doubt. For instance, a person may just be extremely exhausted and it is making them seem intoxicated. A person may also be taking prescription drugs under the care of a physician which makes them appear drunk. Without this proof, the state’s case will be very difficult to prove.
While many of us have had a bit too much to drink in public, if you are charged with disorderly conduct, you are facing serious charges. Disorderly conduct is a class 1 misdemeanor which can result in up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Therefore it is important to contact a lawyer right away if you face these charges in order to prevent a loss of liberty.
If you are convicted of being drunk in public, you may face a class 4 misdemeanor. This charge is not as serious as a disorderly conduct penalty but subsequent convictions can make this a serious crime. If you are charged with other alcohol-related offenses, you may find that the penalties get more and more serious.