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Common Criminal Charges During Football Season

During football season, fans enjoy watching games at home and traveling to their favorite stadiums to enjoy the games with other fans. Many North Carolina residents eagerly Countdown the days until football season starts. Unfortunately, there are certain criminal charges associated with football season. If you have been charged with a crime as a football fan, it is crucial that you understand the charges against you and contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Intoxicated and Disruptive in Public - North Carolina General Statute § 14-444

Under North Carolina law, there is no prosecution for public intoxication. In fact, North Carolina General Statute § 14-447(a) says explicitly that no person may be prosecuted solely for being intoxicated in a public place. If an individual is drunk at a football game and is not disruptive, prosecutors cannot bring charges against him or her. However, North Carolina law does make it a crime to be intoxicated and disruptive in public.

The term intoxicated means that a person is substantially impaired mentally or physically as a result of the use of alcohol. The term public place means a place that is open to the public, whether it is publicly or privately owned. Football stadiums, football stadium parking lots, bars, restaurants, public streets, and public parking garages are all considered public places under the statute. What does it mean to be intoxicated and disruptive in public? The statute defines the following behaviors as unlawful:

  • Blocking or otherwise interfering with motor vehicle traffic in a public vehicular area or on a highway
  • Blocking or lying across or otherwise preventing or interfering with access to or passage across a sidewalk or entrance to a building or
  • Grabbing, shoving, pushing, or fighting others or challenging others to fight or
  • Cursing or shouting at or otherwise rudely insulting others or
  • Begging for money or other property

Being intoxicated and disruptive in public is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor. Although this is the lowest class of misdemeanor charges, it will still appear on your criminal record if you are convicted.

Resisting Officers - North Carolina General Statute § 14-444

Football fans can become rowdy in stadiums, parking lots, tailgating, or at bars or restaurants while watching the football game. In some cases, individuals arrested for being intoxicated and disruptive in public could face additional charges for resisting police officers. In North Carolina, it is a crime to willfully and unlawfully resist, delay, or obstruct a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge an official duty.

Resisting a police officer is considered a more severe class than a misdemeanor. It is also possible for the charges to be more serious and increase to a Class I felony if the defendant causes serious injury to an officer while resisting arrest. If the defendant caused serious bodily injury to the police officer, they could be found guilty of a Class F felony. Serious bodily injury is defined as bodily injury that:

  • Creates a substantial risk of death, or
  • Causes severe permanent disfigurement, coma, a permanent or protracted condition that causes extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or
  • That results in prolonged hospitalization.
Driving While Impaired - North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.1

After the excitement of watching a football game, it can be tempting to get into a vehicle and drive home. Football fans may think they are not intoxicated because they only had a few drinks. Football season also corresponds with many holidays. It can be tempting to overindulge in alcohol during the holiday season, leading to increased drinking and driving accidents.

In North Carolina, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated with drugs or alcohol. The legal limit in North Carolina is .08% of a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC). North Carolina also has a zero-tolerance policy regarding intoxicated driving for those under 21. if you are a college student enjoying a college football game and driving while intoxicated, you could be charged with DWI even if you have a negligible amount of alcohol in your system.

Contact a Skilled DWI Attorney

If you have been charged with any of these crimes during the football season or at any other point throughout the year, hiring an experienced attorney is critical. The right attorney could be the difference between facing prison time, fines, the loss of your driver's license, and a permanent criminal record and walking away with your freedom. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation and learn how we can fight for you.