Public Intoxication – Houston TX

I’m charged with public intoxication (class c misdemeanor), after a policeman arrested me while sleeping in my car, which was parked in a driveway. I was not given a Breathalyzer or sobriety test, and was bailed out by my wife some hours later. I could have signed a nolo plea, but I do not want this on my record since if convicted it could affect my ability to get a job in the future or other things. I do not know what to do, and am willing to do alcohol courses, community service, anything to not be convicted. This is my first offense of any type other than a speeding ticket 2 years ago.

Asked on July 1, 2009 under Criminal Law, Texas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I think that your instincts are correct in wanting to fight this charge.

To prove you were guilty of Public Intoxication in Texas, the police and prosecutors must prove that you were "intoxicated to the extent that you were danger to yourself or others."  All too often, PI  arrests are made simply because someone "argues with the police."  Some police will make an arrest in that situation and justify it by stating "Anyone who argues with me is a danger to themselves."  Fortunately, many times an officer making such an arrest will not appear in court or testify against you.

These type cases are very fact specific; this is a highly technical area of the law.  The charges may be thrown out, or at least the prosecution may be convinced to give you "deferred adjudication" on the case.  With deferred adjudication, upon successful completion of probation, you may petition the court to expunge (erase) the charge.  Otherwise, if convicted, the arrest and conviction will be on your record forever.

You need to consult with an attorney on all of this; many times in these type cases they do not even charge for an initial consultation.  Make sure that he/she is local to the area where all of this happened.  If you get someone who is familiar with the judges and prosecutors they will know how best to approach things and present your case.  As in life, many times it's not so much what you know but who you know.

Best of luck. 

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