Is drinking in public an infraction or misdemeanor?

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Is drinking in public an infraction or misdemeanor?

Yesterday afternoon several friends of mine and I were at a local park grilling some food and had some beer that we had been drinking. An undercover cop approached us and stated that it is against the law to drink in public, and we were given a ticket for “Drinking in Public 41.27 (c)”. On the ticket, it states that this is a misdemenour, but I have searched online to figure out the consequences. Is it an infraction or misdemeanor? I have never received a ticket of any sort and do not want this on my record. Will I need to attend court, or will I get something in the mail?

Asked on June 5, 2011 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

To answer your first question, public intoxication can be considered either a misdemeanor or an infraction in California. If you are convicted of the misdemeanor, you could be imprisoned in county jail for up to six months, or you could be given a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or you could get the fine and be imprisoned (i.e., both).  And it can indeed go on your record. But as an infraction it will not be on your permanent record.  So how do you deal with it?  By getting yourself someone to help you navigate the legal system - like an attorney.  Now, the court - i.e., the Judge - has the power to place the defendant on probation. If the defendant is placed on probation, the court may impose from one day to one year in the county jail as a condition of probation. A probation sentence may also include counseling, community service, physical labor, or drug testing.  But a Judge has to be persuaded to do this. By a good attorney. 


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