", by 
Licensed under 
CC BY 2.0

Legal defenses and penalties for public intoxication

The specific legal defenses for public intoxication will vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific charges. However, some common defenses that may be used in cases of public intoxication include:

  • Lack of intent: The prosecution must prove that the defendant intentionally or knowingly became intoxicated in a public place. If the defendant can show that their intoxication was accidental or unintentional, they may have a valid defense.
  • Necessity: In some cases, the defendant may argue that their public intoxication was necessary to protect themselves or others from immediate harm.
  • Entrapment: If the police induced or coerced the defendant into becoming publicly intoxicated, this may be used as a defense.
  • Insufficient evidence: The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was publicly intoxicated. If the evidence against the defendant is weak or circumstantial, they may argue that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof.
  • medical condition: if the person have some medical condition that makes him/her act in that way, that could be a defense

Drunk and Disorderly

It is important to note that, often, the alleged conduct is charged under specific Penal Codes, such as Penal Code Section 647(f) - "disorderly conduct," or Penal Code Section 415 - "disturbing the peace", that could be applied in those situation, and it will be important to check the specific charges and specific circumstances of the case to determine the most appropriate defense. It is always best to consult with a qualified attorney who is licensed in the state of California to give you a better understanding of the specific defenses that may be available in your case.


In California, public intoxication is a violation of the law under Penal Code 647(f). Penalties for public intoxication in California are generally considered to be relatively minor. Public Intoxication is considered a "misdemeanor" which carries a punishment of a maximum of six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000.

However, these penalties are typically not imposed for first time offenders, and instead the individual may be given a citation to appear in court and/or ordered to perform community service.

If the individual has a prior record of public intoxication or other similar offenses, penalties may be harsher and the court can impose more severe punishment.

The court also may order the individual to attend an alcohol education or treatment program as a condition of probation.

It is worth noting that, in most cases, public intoxication by itself is not considered a serious criminal offense and doesn’t result in imprisonment, especially if it is the first time the person has been charged.

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law Group patiently await your call.

H Law Group Online

Legal Tips straight to your inbox!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.