Public Intoxication

What is Public Intoxication? In Virginia Public Intoxication is a crime. The term “intoxicated” is defined in state law as “a condition in which a person has drunk enough alcoholic beverages to observably affect his manner, disposition, speech, muscular movement, general appearance or behavior.” With such a broad definition, public intoxication is easily argued – especially because in Virginia, law enforcement does not need a blood alcohol or Breathalyzer test to issue a citation for public intoxication.

What are the penalties for Public Intoxication?


Additionally, if you have been previously convicted of certain alcohol or drug-related crimes, you may face a fine of up to $2500.00, and one year in jail.

What are my defense options? To get a conviction on a public intoxication charge, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated and that you were indeed in a public place or exposed to public view. Some possible defense options are:

Not intoxicated – A defendant can argue that he was not intoxicated at the time of the arrest. Juries and judges tend to side with the testimony of the arresting officer in these cases, so this defense can be hard to substantiate unless the defendant has concrete evidence showing that he was not intoxicated.

Not a public place – A defendant can show that the arrest was not made in a public place, or that the defendant was involuntarily in a public place at the time of arrest. An example of this is if the defendant had been ordered out of his home by law enforcement and then arrested for public intoxication. Prescription medication – A defendant can argue that at the time of arrest, he was under the influence of a medication taken as directed while under the care of a licensed physician.

Why should I consult an attorney? A conviction for public intoxication can reflect poorly in background checks for future employment prospects, housing, and other important areas of life. For college students in particular, a conviction can close doors and narrow internship and employment opportunities down the road. It is important to realize that in court, a defendant without legal representation is at an automatic disadvantage. Attorney Paracha will ensure that the justice system is not stacked against you.

If you have been charged with Public Intoxication, contact The Paracha Firm immediately for no-fee consultation.


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