Arizona Public Intoxication Charges - Is It Illegal to be Drunk in Public?
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In the state of Arizona, public intoxication is a charge that can lead to serious consequences, even if it may seem relatively harmless at first glance.
With an average of 1,000 public intoxication cases per year and fines reaching up to $2,500, it’s important to be aware of Arizona state laws and municipality ordinances surrounding public drunkenness.
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What is the Legal Definition of Public Intoxication in Arizona?
In Arizona, public intoxication is not a standalone crime. However, individuals who are intoxicated in public can be charged with other offenses such as loitering, disturbing the peace, or trespassing on private property, all of which are covered under different sections of the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS).
A person may be considered intoxicated if their normal faculties are impaired due to the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances.
This typically occurs when an individual has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, as defined by ARS 28-1381.
What are the Penalties and Potential Consequences for Public Intoxication in Arizona?
Although simply being drunk in public in Arizona is not a crime, its associated offenses can lead to significant penalties. For instance, loitering (ARS 13-2905) and disturbing the peace (ARS 13-2904) are both considered class 1 misdemeanors.
These charges can result in a fine of up to $2,500, six months of imprisonment, or both, as stated by ARS 13-707.
Trespassing on Private Property (ARS 13-1502) is another common charge related to public intoxication.
Depending on the circumstances and degree of trespassing, the offense can range from a class 3 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony, carrying penalties ranging from a $500 fine and 30 days in jail to a $150,000 fine and up to 1.5 years in prison. Apart from the legal penalties, a public intoxication charge can have far-reaching consequences on various aspects of an individual’s life.
Some of these unique consequences include the following:
- The Potential of Losing a Scholarship – Students with scholarships may be at risk of losing their financial aid if they receive a public intoxication charge. Many scholarships have strict codes of conduct, and a violation can lead to the revocation of the scholarship. This can significantly impact students’ ability to continue their education and potentially derail their academic careers.
- Loss of College Housing – College students arrested for being drunk in public may face disciplinary action from their educational institution, including the loss of on-campus housing. Many colleges and universities have policies against substance abuse and related offenses, and a public intoxication charge can lead to expulsion from student housing or even suspension from the institution.
- Difficulty Keeping or Finding Employment – A public intoxication charge on one’s criminal record can make finding or maintaining employment difficult. Many employers conduct background checks before hiring, and a criminal record with charges related to substance abuse can raise concerns about an applicant’s reliability, professionalism, and ability to perform the job.
- Impact on a Divorce or Child Custody Case – A public intoxication charge can negatively impact the outcome of divorce or child custody proceedings. Courts consider the child’s best interests when determining custody arrangements, and a parent with a history of substance abuse or criminal charges may be seen as an unfit or irresponsible caregiver. This could lead to reduced custody rights or even supervised visitation.
- Banned From an Establishment, Such as a Bar or Restaurant – A publicly intoxicated person may be banned from certain establishments, particularly bars or restaurants where the incident occurred. Businesses have the right to refuse service to individuals who have caused disturbances or engaged in illegal activities on their premises. This can be particularly inconvenient and embarrassing, as well as limit one’s social and leisure options.
These unique consequences of a public intoxication charge ephasize the importance of seeking legal advice and representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney, such as those at Colburn Hintze Maletta.
A skilled lawyer can help minimize the impact of the charges on your personal and professional life and possibly even have the charges reduced or dismissed.
Can You be Charged with Public Intoxication if You are Not Causing a Disturbance?
Even if an intoxicated individual is consuming liquor in a public place but is not causing a disturbance, they may still be charged with loitering or trespassing on private property.
As defined by ARS 13-2905, loitering can occur when a person is present in a public place and unreasonably refuses to comply with a lawful order to disperse.
Under ARS 13-1502, trespassing can occur when a person knowingly enters or remains on private property without the owner’s permission.
Can a Charge of Public Intoxication Be Expunged From Your Record?
Arizona does not offer record expungement for most criminal charges. However, it does provide a process called “setting aside” a conviction, as outlined in ARS 13-907.
Setting aside a conviction can help reduce the negative impact of an Arizona criminal record, as it essentially hides the conviction for most purposes, such as a background check.
To be eligible, individuals must complete all sentence conditions, including probation and payment of fines.
A judge will then consider factors such as the nature of the crime, the individual’s behavior since the conviction, and any other relevant circumstances before deciding whether to set aside the conviction.
Other Charges Associated with Public Intoxication
Yes, a public intoxication charge can lead to additional criminal charges, depending on the circumstances. It is quite common that additional charges are stacked against you when arrested.
The prosecution will try to use these additional charges, so it is the job of your defense attorney from CHM Law Group to diligently work on your behalf to reduce or even dismiss these charges completely.
Additional charges can include the following:
- Disorderly conduct
- Possession of drugs or controlled substances
- Driving under the influence
- Resisting arrest
- Assault on a police officer
- Criminal trespassing
- Disturbing the peace
- Urinating in public
- Underage Drinking
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Drugs
Disorderly conduct, as defined by ARS 13-2904, occurs when an individual engages in disruptive behavior such as fighting, making excessive noise, using abusive language, or recklessly handling a dangerous instrument.
This offense is a class 1 misdemeanor and can lead to penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and community service.
Possession of Drugs or Controlled Substances
In Arizona, possession of drugs or controlled substances is governed by ARS 13-3401 through 13-3423.
Penalties for drug possession offenses depend on the type and quantity of the substance, as well as the individual’s prior criminal history. Consequences can range from probation and fines to imprisonment and mandatory drug treatment programs.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Arizona, as outlined in ARS 28-1381. DUI charges can result from operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher or while impaired by drugs.
Penalties for DUI convictions can include fines, jail time, license suspension or revocation, and mandatory alcohol or drug education programs.
Resisting arrest, as described in ARS 13-2508, involves using physical force or the threat of force to prevent an officer from making an arrest.
This offense can be classified as a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 6 felony, depending on the circumstances. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, and community service.
Assault on a Police Officer
Assaulting a police officer, as specified in ARS 13-1204, can be classified as a class 2, 3, or 4 felonies, depending on the severity of the assault and the injuries sustained by the officer.
Penalties for this offense can range from probation and fines to substantial prison sentences.
Criminal trespassing in Arizona is governed by ARS 13-1502 through § 13-1504 and can range from a class 3 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony, depending on the circumstances.
Penalties for criminal trespassing can include fines, imprisonment, and community service.
Disturbing the Peace
Disturbing the peace, also known as disorderly conduct, is covered under ARS 13-2904. This offense, including fighting, making unreasonable noise, or using abusive language, is a class 1 misdemeanor.
Penalties can consist of fines, imprisonment, and community service.
Urinating in Public
Urinating in public is not specifically addressed in the Arizona Revised Statutes. However, it may be considered a violation of local city or town ordinances, which can result in fines or other penalties.
In some cases, public urination may also be considered indecent exposure under ARS 13-1402, a class 1 misdemeanor.
In Arizona, it is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. If a minor is found to be publicly intoxicated, they can be charged with underage drinking, a violation of ARS 4-244(9).
This offense is a class 1 misdemeanor and can result in fines, community service, alcohol education or treatment programs, and even suspension or revocation of their driver’s license.
Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Drugs
A minor who is intoxicated in public may also face charges for possessing alcohol or drugs. In Arizona, it is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 to have alcohol in their body or possess any amount of alcohol, as stated in ARS 4-244(41).
This offense is a class 1 misdemeanor, and the penalties can include fines, community service, and suspension or revocation of the minor’s driver’s license.
Similarly, if a minor is found to be in possession of drugs or controlled substances while intoxicated, they can be charged under ARS 13-3401 through § 13-3423. Penalties for drug possession offenses can vary depending on the type and quantity of the substance, as well as the individual’s prior criminal history.
Do You Need a Defense Lawyer for a Public Intoxication Charge in Arizona?
While hiring a defense lawyer for a public intoxication charge in Arizona is not mandatory, having an experienced criminal defense attorney from a reputable law firm like Colburn Hintze Maletta can significantly impact the outcome of your case.
A skilled attorney can evaluate the specifics of your situation, help you understand your rights, and build a strong defense on your behalf.
Your attorney may be able to challenge the validity of the charges, negotiate with the prosecution to reduce or dismiss charges or argue for a more lenient sentence.
They can also guide you through the process of setting aside a conviction, improving your chances of a successful outcome.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately
Arizona’s public intoxication laws and charges can be harsher than you might expect.
Although public intoxication is not a standalone crime, the associated charges can carry significant penalties and long-lasting consequences.
If you face such charges, it’s crucial to understand your rights and seek the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer like those at Colburn Hintze Maletta.
Their expertise can help you navigate the legal system and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
Call us immediately at (602) 825-2500 to discuss this during a free consultation.
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