Every county in California has a court known as a “superior court” or “trial court,” which has jurisdiction (authority) over criminal cases in that county. For example, Ventura Superior Court has jurisdiction over misdemeanor and felony cases that are being prosecuted in Ventura County. Depending on the defendant’s age and other factors, the case may be tried in the Ventura Courthouse, the East County Courthouse, or the Oxnard Juvenile Courthouse, which are each part of Ventura Superior Court. In this article, the Ventura criminal defense attorneys of Bamieh & De Smeth, who have represented many defendants in Ventura Superior Court, explain some of the possible defenses against public intoxication charges in Ventura County.

3 Legal Defenses Against Being Drunk in Public in Ventura

Being drunk in public is not necessarily a crime in California. However, if intoxication causes you to act in certain ways, or if your behavior has certain effects on the people around you, you can be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct due to public intoxication. Specifically, public intoxication can lead to criminal prosecution for disorderly conduct if:

  • You were so intoxicated that you were “unable to exercise care for [your] own safety,” or the safety of those around you – for example, if you allegedly caused a vehicle to swerve by straying into the middle of the road.
  • Your actions while intoxicated prevented others from freely using a street, sidewalk, or other public land – for example, if you were physically blocking a walkway.

If you are reading this article, it is likely because you or a loved one has recently been charged with being drunk in public in Ventura County. If so, we urge you to contact our criminal defense lawyers immediately for legal assistance. The longer you wait to get representation, the greater your chance of being convicted – and facing harsh penalties as a result.
When you are represented by Bamieh & De Smeth, we will analyze every detail of your case, no matter how small, to identify flaws or vulnerabilities in the prosecution’s case against you, including the chain of supposed events that led to your arrest, and the arresting officer’s conduct prior to, during, and after the arrest. Aided by our founding attorney’s invaluable experience and insight as former Senior Deputy District Attorney for Ventura County, our legal team understands how to anticipate and counter the tactics that prosecutors use against defendants in disorderly conduct cases involving public intoxication. Depending on the details surrounding your case, an array of legal defenses may be effective against public intoxication charges in Ventura Superior Court. Three examples of potential defenses against drunk in public charges are summarized below.

  • You were not in public. Cal. Penal Code § 647(f) specifies being “found in any public place” as an “element of the offense,” meaning a fact that has to be true in order for conviction to occur. If you were intoxicated in a private space, you cannot be convicted of public intoxication. However, the boundary between “public” and “private” can be blurry in California. Some areas, like the area around your home or apartment, can be interpreted as private or public depending on how accessible the land is and where it is located, which is one of the reasons having legal representation in court is so critical.
  • The arresting officer had no probable cause. Police officers need to have “probable cause” to make an arrest in Ventura County. Probable cause needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but speaking broadly, is defined as observations or known information that would lead a reasonable person to suspect the occurrence of a crime. If a police officer exaggerates or misrepresents evidence, detains you without a valid legal basis, or violates your Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an unlawful search and seizure, our Ventura or Oxnard defense lawyers can potentially “bring a motion” (submit a legal document) asking the court to suppress evidence against you, which could lead to the dismissal of your case.
  • There wasn’t enough evidence against you. Every criminal case, from the smallest misdemeanor to the most serious violent felony, revolves around evidence. Whether it takes the form of video footage, fingerprints, or eyewitness testimony, evidence must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the alleged crime. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is an extremely rigorous standard that is much more demanding the standards of proof used in civil cases like personal injury lawsuits. In many public intoxication cases, it becomes apparent that the defendant was arrested without adequate evidence of the alleged crime, particularly if the defendant was a victim of racial profiling.

Ventura Criminal Lawyers for Public Intoxication Charges in California

At The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, our team of trusted criminal attorneys brings over 22 years of legal experience to each case we handle – including inside experience from the opposite side of the courtroom. As former prosecutors, we understand how prosecutors approach public intoxication charges in Ventura County, enabling us to craft stronger, more effective legal strategies in defense of our clients.
To discuss public intoxication, driving under the influence (DUI), or other alcohol-related charges with our Ventura DUI lawyers in a free consultation, call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 right away. We will keep your information confidential.