Public Intoxication/Disorderly Conduct

Much to the surprise of many, being intoxicated or drunk in public in Monroe is technically not against the law. That being said, in 1977, North Carolina’s legislature changed state law to make it illegal to be both intoxicated and disruptive in public. In fact, North Carolina law specifically lists five acts that are against the law when intoxicated and in public that fall under disruptive behavior. These include blocking traffic, blocking a sidewalk, instigating a fight, cursing at or insulting others, and begging. In short, you need to be visibly drunk and causing trouble to get the attention of law enforcement and be charged with the crime.

Public Intoxication

While being intoxicated in public on its own is not a crime, a person who is found to be intoxicated in a public place may be taken into protective custody by North Carolina law enforcement - such as a shelter or medical facility – and issued a citation.

Under state law, the person accused of public intoxication – termed as intoxicated and disruptive in North Carolina – must be substantially impaired by alcohol to be charged with the offense. What actually constitutes “substantially impaired,” however, is not defined by law but instead is a fact that is left up to a judge or jury. A poem on the topic is included in the jury instructions involving the charge of intoxicated and disruptive. The poem reads as follows:

Not drunk is he who from the floor
Can rise alone and still drink more;
But drunk is he who prostrate lies,
Without the power to drink or rise.

Additionally, individuals in Monroe who are found to be intoxicated in public and drive while intoxicated (DWI) or commit other crimes may be prosecuted and convicted for those offenses. Finally, North Carolina law considers any place that is open to the public as a public place, even if that space is privately owned.

Disorderly Conduct

Commonly referred to as disturbing the peace, the crime of disorderly conduct dates back to the1960s and included sit-ins, protests, and other general acts of civil disobedience. While mass protest days of the 1960s may be gone, the law is still on the books in North Carolina. Examples of prohibited conduct under the law includes failing to adhere to orders, being drunk in public, loitering, inciting a riot, causing loud and unreasonable noise, obstructing or blocking traffic, participating in forms of lascivious behaviors, and interference with activities and normal course of business, among others. North Carolina law renders disorderly conduct as an intentionally or purposefully caused public disturbance. Disorderly conduct is a serious crime in Marvin, North Carolina and is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. As noted, there are several types of behaviors that may fall under disorderly conduct.

Intoxicated and Disruptive Penalties

While the above referenced poem can be seen as amusing, facing a Marvin intoxicated and disruptive charge is anything but funny. Under North Carolina law, an intoxicated and disruptive charge is classified as a Class 3 misdemeanor. Although this is the lowest class of criminal offenses under state law, a person convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor may still face monetary fines, court costs, probation, an active jail sentence, and a permanent criminal record. Class 3 misdemeanors are punishable by a monetary fine of up to $200 and between one and 10 days in jail – assuming it is the defendant’s first offense. When someone has prior public intoxication convictions, subsequent charges and/or convictions can result in up to 20 days in jail in addition to the monetary fine.

Criminal Defense in Marvin

As can be seen, an intoxicated and disruptive charge in Marvin, North Carolina can be complicated. Depending on the facts of your particular case, there may be multiple defenses available. Do not let a criminal charge or conviction leave a blemish on your record that may cause you employment issues down the road. If you are facing an intoxicated and disruptive charge in Marvin, North Carolina, contact the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Our firm has experienced defending clients against all types of criminal charges in state and federal courts. Your freedom is important; do not delay and call us right away.