Can I be charged with public intoxication after I was accused of theft? 63 Answers as of May 29, 2013

A person in the bar stole a tip jar. I somehow got thrown into the mix. As I was apprehended inside the bar I asked why I was being arrested. I was told it was because I stole the tip jar. They found out it wasn't me but charged me with public drunkenness. Is a bar considered public? And what is the best defense for my case? I wasn't a danger to myself or others and was actually looking for my friends so we could get a cab home.

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Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
Unless the bar was owned by a government entity, it was probably private property. You may have a defense that you were not in "public" at the time.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 8/15/2012
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
I would fight the charges since you usually have to be disorderly also for the charge to stick.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/8/2012
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
I would have to know more facts and then look up the statute. If you were charged, you should have an attorney. Whoever you hire should be able to get that charge dismissed unless there is more to it that you have explained.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 8/3/2012
Law Office of William L Spern | William Spern
Public drunkenness can only happen in the public and not in the bar.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/1/2012
Law Office of Ronald G. Draper | Ronald G. Draper
You're not criminally liable for public intoxication in a bar.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    I don't think there is any basis for a charge of public intoxication.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Austin Hirschhorn, P.C.
    Austin Hirschhorn, P.C. | Austin Hirschhorn
    If you were charged with a crime out of the events you describe, the police write up of what occurred satisfied an assistant prosecutor that there was sufficient evidence for a warrant to be issued. If you believe that you are innocent of any wrongdoing you should hire a lawyer to represent you. Because you are charged with a crime, if you can't afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    I do not think the charge of public intoxication will stand once you go to court. Generally, public intoxication occurs on a public way, such as a sidewalk or street, and not inside a bar. Generally speaking, many patrons get intoxicated inside bard, the cops just wanted to mess with you, and wanted to justify their arrest of you for something.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Your best defense is to keep quiet and hire a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    THE LOCKHART LAW FIRM | CLAYTON LOCKHART
    In Mississippi, you can be arrested inside of a public establishment and be charged (and convicted) of public intoxication. It does seem strange that they can arrest you inside of a bar, a place where alcohol is the main attraction, and charge you with public intoxication. Generally when someone is arrested on this charge (and particularly when inside an establishment that serves alcohol), it is more because of their conduct and attitude rather than their state of inebriation. In your case here it appears as though the officer wanted to save face as he/she found out that they couldn't get you for stealing the tip jar so the only thing he had was a bogus charge. I say fight it.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Toivonen Law Office | John Toivonen
    Bars are public places. The exception would be a private club. In Michigan we have a statue that forbids Disorderly Conduct. As to what constitutes Disorderly Conduct, the court will consider various factors. Were you stumbling, slurring your speech, making threats, or doing anything that a reasonable person would consider behavior associated with intoxication? In many cases the officer has made a decision that is subjective and can be challenged. If you do not have an attorney, a Disorderly Conduct charge will probably stick. If you hire an attorney, there is a good chance that you can get the charge dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Law Offices of Brian J. Lockwood
    Law Offices of Brian J. Lockwood | Brian J. Lockwoood
    Your question fails to mention your jurisdiction, your age and your criminal record. In Mobile County, it would be wise to seek a "good behavior," which is a contingent dismissal with your continued good behavior serving as the contingency. If you have an extensive criminal record, it is unlikely you would qualify for "good behavior." A second idea is to seek a plea agreement involving a reduced/different charge. For example, a charge of disorderly conduct may have less of an impact on your future employment prospects. Regardless, it is a good idea to speak with a local attorney in whom you trust.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    James M. Osak, P.C.
    James M. Osak, P.C. | James M. Osak
    YES. A bar is a PUBLIC meeting place . . . open to the public. They have to PROVE that you were "drunk in public." Did you CONFESS to drinking.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    The prosecutors CAN charge or amend charges at any time they believe they can prove them and convict you. You get to fight whatever they bring against you. When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a test, search or confession be used against you, can you be convicted, and what can you do? If you don't know how to represent yourself effectively against an experienced prosecutor intending to convict, then hire an attorney who does, who will try to get a dismissal, charge reduction, diversion, program, or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Law Office of Michael E. Dailey
    Law Office of Michael E. Dailey | Michael E. Dailey
    If you were not causing a problem and the bar makes no complaint, you should not be charged. Public drunkenness without more factors is not considered a crime but is determined to possibly be more of a medical or addiction issue. You may still need a lawyer to get that across to the court. Apparently the local cops have not been well trained.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Myles Hahn III Attorney at Law | Myles Hahn III
    Answers to these questions depend on what you are exactly charged with, what city it happened in, if anyone would testify against you, and other factors.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Michael E. Jones, P.S. | Michael E. Jones
    Since alcoholism was recognized as an illness in th 1960's all public intoxication crimes have been removed from the books. only DUI remains in most jurisdictions. However, inventive officer's sometimes charge disorderly conduct or similar offenses to allow them to arrest people who are merely intoxicated.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    If the facts of the case warrant the charge, you could be so charged. In order for me to make a proper determination, I would have to see the police reports and other facts surrounding your particular case. You ask what is your best defense: my advice is that yopu retain an attorney who can review with you the facts of your case and prepare accordingly.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    Yes a bar is a public place, you need to get an attoreny.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Michael S. Edwards, Attorney at Law, PLLC | Mike Edwards
    Yes, a bar is considered a public place, for purposes of the intoxication statute. The best defense will be to hire a good criminal defense attorney to help you with your case. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    This depends upon the way the law reads which they are accusing you of violating. An attorney will look very carefully at the law and the specific facts of the charge to see if there is any opportunity to challenge the arrest.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Natty Shafer Law
    Natty Shafer Law | Nathaniel Shafer
    You could be charged with public drunkenness in Utah for being in a bar, but they also have to prove that you "unreasonably disturb[ed] other persons." If you weren't being a disturbance then it sounds like you have a good case. For the best result, hire an attorney and keep your record clean.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    LeadfootSpeedingTicket.com
    LeadfootSpeedingTicket.com | Andrea Storey Rogers
    Yes, a bar is a public place. You need to hire a criminal defense attorney who practices in the city or county where you were arrested or ticketed. The attorney can probably negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor to get the charge reduced to a lesser offense so you won't have this on your permanent criminal record. With a charge for Public drunkenness, it doesn't matter that you weren't driving or that you weren't dangerous.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Conway Law Pllc.
    Conway Law Pllc. | B. L. Conway
    Yes, you can be charged in a Bar as it is a public place. The issues are whether you were intoxicated as defined by the Code and whether your detention was constitutional.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Law Office of Christopher G Humphrey PC | Christopher G Humphrey
    You have pin pointed your defense. You will need witnesses to come to court and testify as to whether you were a danger to yourself or others. You can be charged with anything... But it may not result in conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Wyoming
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Yes, a bar open to the public is a public place. In order to convict you, they just prove that you were so intoxicated that you were unable to care for your safety or the safety of others (or that you were obstructing a public way, but that's not what I'm getting from your facts). From what you wrote, I'm not sure they will charge you in court. If you are charged, it sounds as though you have a good defense. Unfortunately, it's going to require an attorney representing you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD | Mace Yampolsky
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    That reminds me of the Ron White joke where he talks about being arrested for being public intoxication in a Manhattan bar.. He said "I was drunk in a bar..I got THROWN in public!". I would have to look at your charges and supporting deposition. If you were charged with public intoxication you are probably innocent. You were not "in public" you were in a private establishment. The police were wrong and you might even be able to sue them for false arrest.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Castro, Rivera & Associates | Sandra Rivera
    Your case can't truly be evaluated unless your attorney reads the police report. What you say happened and what the police report says happened may be very different. Whether the report reflects the truth or not, it's what your defense has to consider.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Law Office of Charles M. Vacca Jr. | Charles Martin Vacca Jr.
    Would have to review the police reports and further facts of the case. Of course, one can drink alcoholic beverages in a bar. Public drunkenness usually relates to one being intoxicated in a common public area, such as roads, parks, etc.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Alvin Lundgren | Alvin Lundgren
    You can be charged, the question is whether the DA wants to prosecute.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    VALENTE SCHARG & ASSOCIATES | DEAN VALENTE
    Sounds like a classic case of CYA because of possible fear of a claim of false arrest they came up with a charge they figure could stand or at least have PC to make. People go into bars more often than not to get a little intoxicated. Heck you could charge 75% of most bar patrons. I would hope such charges are dropped at pre-trial unless of course you were acting like a drunken jerk. Then the charges may stand. But absent disorderly behavior (or conduct prohibited by the wording of the ordinance) sounds like a pretty weak case. Of course more details would be helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    647(f) is a relatively minor offense, and an experienced defense attorney has a good chance of getting your case dismissed or at least reduced to an infraction. Sometimes this involves the attorney negotiating with the Judge so that you can "earn" the dismissal. Contact an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2012
    Law Offices of Phil Shekerlian
    Law Offices of Phil Shekerlian | Phil Shekerlian
    Unfortunately, a bar is considered public. However, there are multiple ways to attack your case. First withhold be to challenge their probable cause that you stole the jar. Next would be based on your display of intoxication. I highly recommend you get an attorney for this because you may have a good case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Your version of the event and the police version of the events may differ. The way to handle this is to go to the court on the date in your citation. Look at the master calendar and see if your name is there. If not that means that the DA has not filed on your citation. If so you need to go to the DA?s office and check on the status of you case. Make sure you your citation date stamped to show you were there on your court date. If your name is on the calendar; go to the court listed for your arraignment. Ask to speak with the Public Defender. He will pull your case and tell you what you are charged with and what the police report says. He will also give you advice on what to do. Do not hire an attorney until you have done all of this.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    Yes, you can be arrested and charged with being drunk in public regardless of any accusation of theft. Drunk in public is the most over used charge by the police to punish individuals for incurring their displeasure. You are on the right path for your defense. The DA will have to prove you were unable to care for yourself. Even if the DA can't convict you, the officer and his actions will have cost you time, money, or both. Such an arrest is an abuse of power. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Yes it is a public place.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Satch Ejike, PhD, LL.M. | Satch Ejike
    If you were intoxicated in public and reasonably suspected of stealing, you could be so charged. If you were drunk in a bar and became disruptive, you might have disturbed the peace or your conduct could have been disorderly. You don't need to be a danger to yourself or others to be a disorderly person.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    Yes, you can be PI in a bar because it is technically a public place, i.e. open to the public.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Thomas C. Brandstrader Attorney At Law | Thomas C. Brandstrader
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Larry K. Dunn & Associates | Larry K. Dunn
    A bar is considered a public place however it is rare that a person will be arrested and charged with public intoxication inside a bar absent some type of disturbance. If a person is a danger to themselves or others the person is usually taken into custody for Civil Protective Custody and not charged with a crime. The best defense is that the bar is serving alcohol for the purpose of people getting intoxicated and the statute is not designed to arrest people inside bars although it is technically a public place.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Pietryga Law Office | Russ Pietryga
    A defendant is guilty of intoxication if they are under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or any substance having the property of releasing toxic vapors, to a degree that the person may endanger the person or another, in a public place or in a private place where the defendant unreasonably disturbs the peace. Moreover, a bar would be considered a public place. You can be charged. However, convicted is another story all together. First, it is very difficult to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that you endangered yourself or another. Additionally, a bar is going to be reluctant to have its employees admit that you were a danger and they kept serving you. The bar's liquor license could be in jeopardy, if they kept serving you, even though, you were a danger. Personally, I feel, based on how you explain the facts, the prosecution will have a tough time proving this case beyond a reasonable doubt. Hope this helps.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Law Offices of Mark L. Smith
    Law Offices of Mark L. Smith | Mark L. Smith
    They should dismiss the case on the completion of 10 hours of community service.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
    I don't think there is a state statute for public intoxication- maybe a city ordinance.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Universal Law Group, Inc. | Francis John Cowhig
    The best defense are witnesses who can testify that you were not drunk and was not causing any trouble in the bar. A bar is considered a public place. I suggest that you contact an experienced criminal law attorney for a face-to-face consultation and give him/her all of the facts surrounding your arrest. He/she would then be in a better position to analyze you case and advise you of your options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Law Office of Bernal Peter Ojeda | Bernal Peter Ojeda
    A bar open to the public is a public place. Yes you can be charged.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Law Offices of Christopher R. Smitherman, LLC | Christopher R. Smitherman
    A bar is a public place. There are three elements to the criminal offense in question. The first one is met.... ie public place. The remaining two are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs AND behavior which poses a danger to the defendant or a third party. You should make sure you have a criminal defense lawyer in court to attack the elements of the crime. There is no relationship to the theft of property offense (which is a more serious offense) and public intoxication.... you do not have to have one to have the other.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    You need to hire an attorney to look into the facts of the case and represent you. There may be defenses but on the facts you give, it is hard to say anything.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Pearson, Butler, & Carson, PLLC
    Pearson, Butler, & Carson, PLLC | Matthew R. Kober
    Ironically, you can be arrested for intoxication while in a public or private place. However, you have 1) be intoxicated to a degree taht you endanger another person AND 2) your conduct had to have "unreasonably disturb[ed] others persons."
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Sure, they can charge you with anything, the question is can they convict you. Sounds like an interesting case with a possible defense. Need more details.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C.
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C. | Stuart M. Nachbar
    Technically, yes a bar is public, because you have no expectation of privacy. You should be able to down grade this with assistance of counsel.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    A bar is a public place. The only private places would be your home or someone else's home or an office which is closed. You can use as a defense that you called a cab and by that act it shows you were taking care of yourself. If you were looking for friends and having trouble walking or if you had fallen down, you could be charged with public intoxication, but usually they just keep you until you are sober and then release you. I would not expect charges to be filed on this sort of case unless you have a criminal record involving alcohol.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C. | Gary A. Russell
    It sounds to me that you already have been charged with that offense. Whether or not it can be successfully prosecuted is another issue, but the burden rests on the prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The bar is a private establishment that is open to the public, just like CVS, K-Mart, Sears, etc. So there could be a basis for public intoxication, but it is a stretch.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Darrell B. Reynolds, P.C. | Darrell B. Reynolds
    A bar that is opened to the public is a public place. I would suggest that you retain an attorney to represent you in this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    There is no crime in NY called public drunkenness.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Yes. The two charges are not the same and do not spring from the same nexus of facts. The question as to whether there may be defenses to the charge would require a review of all of the facts, evidence and perhaps, interviews with necessary witnesses. You should consult with legal counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Fairlie & Lippy, P.C.
    Fairlie & Lippy, P.C. | Steven Fairlie
    Unfortunately yes. You should consult with a lawyer regarding the details of your case.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Bruce Plesser | Bruce Plesser
    I'd try the case. Cops covering their ass by charging you but the charge is viable.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    A bar is a public place. You need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/27/2012
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    A bar is considered a public place (ie. People can walk in the bar from the street, distinguishable from a private residence). You should speak to and potentially hire a crimimal defense attorney to keep the misdemeanor off your record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/27/2012
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