If you are severely intoxicated in a public place because of alcohol or an illegal drug, or a combination of the two, in Kentucky you face possible arrest and criminal prosecution. Like many criminal convictions, the harm done by a public intoxication conviction can be far more than a fine or some time in jail. It comes from the fact that you have a criminal record. This can impact your ability to find a job, earn an income and support your family.
Kentucky public intoxication laws
There are two public intoxication laws in Kentucky. One covers intoxication from drinking alcohol, the other from using drugs. The law covering intoxication due to drugs is KY Rev. Stat. Ann. §222.100(1), which states:
A person is guilty of public intoxication when he appears in a public place manifestly under the influence of a controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance, excluding alcohol (unless the alcohol is present in combination with any of the above), not therapeutically administered, to the degree that he may endanger himself or other persons or property, or unreasonably annoy persons in his vicinity.
The statute covering alcohol use is KY Rev. Stat. Ann. §222.202(1), which states:
A person is guilty of alcohol intoxication when he appears in a public place manifestly under the influence of alcohol to the degree that he may endanger himself or other persons or property, or unreasonably annoy persons in his vicinity.
Both of these crimes are considered a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to ninety days in jail and a fine of up to $250.
Defenses to a Kentucky public intoxication charge
Depending on the facts of the situation, there may be several potential defenses to a public intoxication charge. The prosecution has the burden of proof in a criminal case: it’s not up to the defendant to prove his or her innocence. Defenses could include:
- You were not intoxicated or not “manifestly under the influence” of alcohol or a drug. While a police officer could testify as to what you were doing or saying at the time of the arrest, there could be other witnesses who could disagree. Many public places have surveillance cameras, and video of the area could help the prosecution or defense.
- You were intoxicated, but not “to the degree that [you could] endanger [yourself] or other persons or property, or unreasonably annoy persons in [your] vicinity.” You weren’t bothering anyone, causing a nuisance to others or posing a threat to anyone or any property.
- The incident in question didn’t occur in a public place. You may have been on private property. If you were intoxicated and on private property, were ordered to leave by a police officer and go into a public place, you shouldn’t then be arrested for public intoxication after following the officer’s order.
Often a person faces multiple criminal charges based on the same incident in the hopes one of them will stick and result in a conviction. Public intoxication could be included in a charge where a person in a public place is intoxicated and involved in an altercation with another or damages property in some way.
Consequences of a Kentucky public intoxication conviction
Of all the criminal charges someone could face, there are many with greater possible jail terms and higher potential fines. But a public intoxication charge is something you need to take seriously and obtain legal representation to help protect your rights and interests. A Time magazine article on the consequences of a misdemeanor conviction states:
“The single most dangerous thing people think is that if they get a conviction and don’t go to jail they won’t face issues,” says Norman Reimer, the executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “Misdemeanor convictions can have serious impacts.”
Most people who face charges in state criminal courts are charged with minor crimes like possession of marijuana, driving with a suspended license or public intoxication. Misdemeanor convictions may not result in jail time, but these convictions can trigger the same legal obstacles, or collateral consequences, as felonies.
There are more than 45,000 state and federal consequences for convictions. They impact the ability to get a job and obtaining housing, get access to loans, and potentially impact child custody rights. These consequences are called the secret sentence or the silent punishment for a criminal conviction.
How we can help you if you’re facing a Kentucky public intoxication charge
Dan Carman has experience defending public intoxication charges and protecting the rights and interests of his clients. If you’ve been arrested, you need to take the situation seriously — what’s at stake isn’t just what may happen tomorrow, but how a conviction could impact on you and your family for years to come. If you live in Kentucky, a phone call to Dan could be the next step you need to take to see that your rights are protected. Call (859) 838-1415 or use the online form today.