It is very easy to be convicted of public intoxication, but it is not easy to remove it from your record.
Public intoxication is a very common criminal offense, but it is also largely misunderstood. Contrary to what many people believe, public intoxication is not a minor offense, and the effects of a conviction can remain with you for the rest of your life. Below, our Austin criminal defense lawyer explains further.
Public Intoxication in Texas Defined
The term ‘public intoxication’ in Texas refers to more than simply being drunk in a public place. Under the law, intoxication is defined as losing the normal use of physical and mental faculties due to the consumption of alcohol, a controlled substance, drugs, or a combination of two or more of these substances.
To be charged with public intoxication, a person must lose these faculties in a public place. A public place is defined under the law as highways, public streets, bars, parking lots, and even private property. Even passengers of vehicles can be charged with public intoxication.
The last element of the offense is that a person must pose a danger to themselves or others. The law does not provide a definition for this element, and police officers have complete discretion to determine if a person poses a threat to themselves or others.
Penalties for Public Intoxication in Texas
People often believe that public intoxication is a minor offense, but the penalties are harsh. Classified as a Class C misdemeanor, a conviction for a first offense is a fine of up to $500. When a person has prior convictions on their record, the penalties become much harsher.
A conviction will also remain on your permanent criminal record. This means potential employers may see it if they perform a criminal background check, and schools may also withdraw academic opportunities or refuse them altogether. A criminal conviction may also result in a loss of housing opportunities, as landlords and sellers may also conduct a background check to ensure they are not allowing someone with a criminal background to live on certain property.
The only way to avoid these harsh penalties altogether is to work with a criminal defense lawyer who can provide a strong defense for your case. A properly constructed defense can result in getting the charges dismissed so they do not appear on your criminal record. If you have already been convicted, it is not possible to avoid the fine, but after a certain period of time, you may be eligible for an expunction, which will essentially remove the conviction from your record.
Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Austin, TX
If you have been charged with public intoxication, you need sound legal advice. At Granger and Mueller, PC, our Austin criminal defense lawyers know how to fight against these charges to help you retain your freedom. Call us now at (512) 474-9999 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys and to learn more about how we can help.