When a Night Out on the Town Becomes a Night in Jail: Public Drunkenness and Disorderly Conduct Charges

Pittsburgh Public Intoxication Lawyer - Frank Walker Law
Pittsburgh Public Intoxication Lawyer – Frank Walker Law

Sometimes a night of drinking can go a little too far, and get a little too loud and unruly. Once cops become involved, criminal charges can be quick to follow.  Two of the most common, and misunderstood, charges levied in these situations are charges of Public Drunkenness and Disorderly Conduct.

        Public drunkenness requires that a person be manifestly under the influence of alcohol. The public drunkenness statute also applies to intoxication caused by controlled substances.  However, this statute is not intended to outlaw having a few drinks and walking home. Just having alcohol on your breath or a slight stagger in your gait should not be enough to end with criminal charges.  On the other hand, being loud and falling down drunk on a city sidewalk is most likely going to end with a public drunkenness charge.

        Charges of public drunkenness often go hand in hand with disorderly conduct charges.  However, there are significant differences. The first and most obvious, is that a disorderly conduct charge has no requirement of intoxication.  The disorderly conduct charge requires that the offender cause or intend to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience.  This can be accomplished by disturbing the peace through the screaming of loud obscenities or reckless conduct that causes a serious obstruction to the public.

        Just drinking or being loud aren’t in and of themselves crimes worthy of punishment.  However, under the wrong circumstances, you may find yourself facing one of these widely used, and some would say overused, charges.  The burden is on the Commonwealth to prove the elements of these charges. Merely being present on the scene, or having a few drinks, or being in a disagreement with someone, is not enough to sustain a legitimate conviction.  However, as the saying goes, you can beat the rap but you can’t beat the ride. Meaning that although you may ultimately prevail in a court of law, certain behaviors may still land you in cuffs awaiting a summary trial hearing or a preliminary hearing.

        However, just because you’ve been charged with an offense, doesn’t mean you’re guilty.  Handled the wrong way, a charge for public drunkenness or disorderly conduct may interfere with your work life and end up on background checks for years to come.  If you are facing charges of public drunkenness or disorderly conduct after a night out, don’t just plead guilty! Retain Attorney Frank Walker today! With the help of Frank Walker Law, you can potentially get the charges dismissed or reach alternative agreements in lieu of a conviction. And if you’ve been convicted of a public drunkenness or disorderly conduct charge, Attorney Walker can help get the charges expunged and your record wiped clean. 

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia. Attorney Walker is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense, Super Lawyer and qualified as a Pennsylvania Death Penalty Defense Attorney.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident in WV or PA, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation following a serious accident or injury.