I was arrested for public intoxication. What should I do first?
The very first thing you should do is talk to and retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will discuss with you the facts of your case, answer your questions, and walk you through the various options and solutions for successfully resolving your case. Time is of the essence right now, as there are strict deadlines imposed by the courts to respond to your charge, and your attorney will need to prepare and file certain paperwork with the court prior to those deadlines.
Is public intoxication a criminal offense?
Yes, public intoxication is a misdemeanor criminal offense under Section 49.02 of the Texas Penal Code. The statute making public intoxication a criminal offense is located in the same Chapter of the Texas Penal Code as other intoxication offenses, such as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
What is the possible punishment for a public intoxication offense?
In Texas, the offense of public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $500.00 plus court costs. Under certain circumstances, a public intoxication charge can be enhanced to a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.00.
Isn’t public intoxication just a ticket?
It is a common misconception that a public intoxication charge is just a “ticket,” similar to a parking violation or a speeding citation. Many clients report to me that the staff at the jail encouraged them to just “pay the fine” because the charge is “not a big deal” or is “like a parking ticket.”
A parking violation is a civil infraction and is not criminal in nature. A traffic citation is an offense under the Transportation Code, and can only affect your driving record. On the other hand, a public intoxication charge is a Class C misdemeanor criminal offense under the Penal Code, which means it affects your criminal record. If you just pay the fine and are convicted of a public intoxication charge, that conviction will be reported to various state and federal law enforcement and criminal history databases, which causes you to have a permanent criminal record that can be accessed by the public and will appear on future background checks.
Do I need a lawyer to handle my public intoxication case?
While any citizen is free to proceed in a criminal case without being represented by an attorney, it is usually a very bad idea. Why? You are up against a prosecutor who has a law degree and years of experience prosecuting people just like you. The prosecutor will be educated and experienced in the Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Rules of Evidence, and will use his knowledge against you to his advantage. Remember, the prosecutor is not on your side and cannot give you legal advice or suggestions on what to do. His or her job is to represent the interests of the State of Texas.
As an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney, I can easily outmatch the prosecutor, discover legal issues in your case that may require your charge to be dismissed, and use every advantage to aggressively negotiate a successful resolution of your public intoxication case.
You are free to try to handle anything in your own in life. For example, you can attempt to rebuild your own car transmission, extract your own teeth, or cut your own hair. But doesn’t it make more sense to invest in a trained professional and trust that the job will be done correctly with a successful outcome? The same is true when it comes to facing a criminal charge, because your future is riding on the line. You only get one opportunity to obtain a successful result in a criminal case.
Can’t I just go to Court and explain my side of the story to the Judge and get this dropped?
No. A Judge cannot dismiss a criminal case. And the Judge cannot hear any facts about your case except at a trial.
I (or a family member or friend) had to deposit several hundred dollars with the jail to be released. What happens to that money?
The money you (or a family member or friend) deposited is called a Cash Bond. It is a deposit you make with the jail to be released. That money is held by the Court until a final disposition of your public intoxication charge. In most cases, the Cash Bond money will be used to cover any court fees assessed in your case, and any remainder will be refunded to you.
When I was in jail I signed something called a “Conditional Plea of Nolo Contendre.” What is that?
If you signed a conditional plea of nolo contendre when you were in jail, it means the Court will automatically enter a plea of “no contest” on your behalf at the court date listed in your paperwork and use your Cash Bond to pay the fine. This results in a finding of guilt and a conviction reported on your criminal record. However, don’t worry. As soon as I file my initial paperwork with the Court, your conditional plea of nolo contendre is canceled and the Court continues to hold your Cash Bond money until a final resolution of your case.
I pled Guilty or No Contest when I was in jail. Do I still have any options?
Yes, but we only have ten (10) days to file a Motion for New Trial with the Court to vacate your jail plea and set a new court date. If we do not get that Motion for New Trial filed by the 10th day following your jail plea, you will receive a final conviction on your criminal record. So if you entered a plea of Guilty or No Contest when you were in jail, contact me IMMEDIATELY so we don’t miss that critical deadline.
Can you get my public intoxication charge dismissed?
Absolutely. I do it every day for my clients. While the facts of each case are different and no ethical lawyer can guarantee you a particular result, my track record of dismissals is nearly perfect.
Nearly perfect? What is your success rate?
99.83% of my public intoxication cases have ultimately resulted in a dismissal of the charge with no finding of guilt, no conviction, and no criminal record.
How many public intoxication cases have you handled?
I have represented individuals just like yourself in over 3,200 public intoxication cases.
I’ll probably be dealing with your secretary or assistant all the time, right?
Absolutely not. I personally handle all phone calls and emails with my clients, and I never pass off the work to someone else. In this respect, I am different from most attorneys. Customer service and client satisfaction are a top priority in my law practice.
So, how do you get public intoxication charges dismissed?
There are a couple of ways I obtain dismissals of public intoxication charges. Occasionally, I will identify a legal issue or a serious problem with the evidence in the case that requires the prosecutor to dismiss the charge. More commonly, however, is that my aggressive and tactical approach to the case results in the prosecutor backing down and agreeing to dismiss the case after a short waiting period, and possibly a payment of a reduced amount of court fees.
I have a professional license (e.g., doctor, pilot, nurse, teacher, etc.). Will I lose my license and my career?
I have represented hundreds of clients with professional licenses issued by the State of Texas or the federal government. Generally, as long as your public intoxication charge is dismissed and then expunged, you will have no issues with maintaining your professional license.
I have a prior criminal record. Can I still get a dismissal of my public intoxication charge?
Certainly! I have handled many public intoxication cases for individuals with prior criminal records. I am able to employ a strategy where your prior criminal history does not get taken into account in connection your current case.
I am currently on probation for another criminal charge. Can this public intoxication charge still get dismissed?
Definitely! I have handled many public intoxication cases for individuals who were already on probation for another criminal offense. Once again, I am able to employ a strategy where your current probationary status does not get taken into account in connection your public intoxication case.
What if I am under 21? Can I still get a dismissal of my public intoxication charge?
Absolutely! You may have to complete a couple of extra simple conditions, like an alcohol class or a few hours of community service, but I certainly can ensure your public intoxication charge results in a dismissal.
I am not a U.S. citizen, and/or I have a visa. How will this public intoxication charge affect me?
As long as we get the charge dismissed, there will be no immigration consequences and it will not make you ineligible to obtain or keep your visa.
Will I need to appear in court as part of this case?
Probably not. While there are a few cities that require you to accompany me to the court setting(s), most courts waive your appearance if you have an attorney. That means you don’t have to miss work or school and sit in a courtroom all day, and you won’t have to appear before a Judge or answer any stressful or embarrassing questions. I’ll do everything for you.
Will I need to go to trial?
Only if you want to (and you probably don’t). Because of the tactical strategy I have developed to handle public intoxication charges, nearly every case is resolved and dismissed without the risk, uncertainty, time and expense of a jury trial.
However, I never back down from a courtroom fight. If you decide you want to have a jury hear the evidence and decide your guilt or innocence at trial, I will prepare a comprehensive trial strategy and force the prosecutor to try to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. I am highly skilled and experienced at cross-examining police officers, highlighting inconsistencies or weaknesses in the evidence, raising doubts in the minds of the jury members, and convincing them to vote “not guilty.”
If my case gets dismissed and I avoid a conviction and a criminal record, does that mean my arrest record automatically goes away as well?
Not exactly. An arrest record is created the moment you are booked into jail, and by law the only way to get rid of an arrest record is through a process known as an expunction. In order to be eligible to expunge your arrest record, we first must get your public intoxication charge dismissed. Once we have obtained a dismissal of your public intoxication charge, we can then file a Petition for Expunction to erase both your arrest record and the records from the court case.
I call it the “Texas Two-Step.”
Step one: Get your public intoxication case dismissed.
Step Two: Get all the records expunged.
How does an expunction work?
An expunction is a civil legal proceeding conducted under Article 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. It is a separate process that can be done after your public intoxication case is dismissed, and it is handled in a District Court in the County in which you were arrested.
After we file a Petition for Expunction, it is served on each government and law enforcement agency that has records from your arrest or court case. After a few more legal procedures, the Petition goes to the Judge, who confirms that you meet the eligibility requirements. The Judge then signs an Order of Expunction, and the Order is served on each government and law enforcement agency with records from your arrest or court case. Those agencies must then destroy all physical records and delete all electronic data related to your arrest and court case.
What is the effect of an expunction after it is finished?
Once the expunction is final, you can legally deny the occurrence of the arrest and the public intoxication case for all purposes, and no record of the arrest or court case will remain in existence. The arrest and court case will not show up on a background check. It will be like this entire headache never happened.
Do I need to get the expunction after my public intoxication case is dismissed?
It’s up to you. However, I strongly encourage each client to complete the process by getting an expunction of his or her records as soon as possible after the public intoxication case is dismissed. It is the only way to realize the full and complete benefit of your public intoxication case being dismissed.
Can you handle the expunction of my records after my public intoxication charge is dismissed?
Absolutely! I do it all the time for my clients. In fact, I offer a discount of the expunction fees for my prior clients.