To be completely clear, North Carolina law, specifically, North Carolina General Statute § 14-447(a) states that there is no prosecution for public intoxication. The statute states that no person may be prosecuted solely for being intoxicated in a public place. As long as the individual is not disruptive in any way, they can be assisted without facing any form of criminal charges. Put in common sense terms, it is not illegal to be drunk in public despite what you have seen or heard on television.
- The term “intoxicated” means the condition of a person whose mental or physical functioning is presently substantially impaired as a result of the use of alcohol.
- The term “public place” means a place that is open to the public, whether it is publicly or privately owned.
North Carolina General Statute § 14-444 (Intoxicated and Disruptive in Public)
What is actually a crime and unlawful is being disruptive and intoxicated in public. In the statute, it shall be unlawful for any person in a public place to be intoxicated and disruptive in any of the following ways:
- Blocking or otherwise interfering with traffic on a highway or public vehicular area, or
- Blocking or lying across or otherwise preventing or interfering with access to or passage across a sidewalk or entrance to a building, or
- Grabbing, shoving, pushing or fighting others or challenging others to fight, or
- Cursing or shouting at or otherwise rudely insulting others, or
- Begging for money or other property.
The punishment that you could face is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Even though this is the lowest class of misdemeanors, it can still appear on your record and become a negative blemish in your life.
N.C.G.S. § 14-223 (Resisting Officers)
Typically, when arrested and alcohol is involved there are times when individuals resist being arrested because of the state that they are in. Under North Carolina law, if any person shall willfully and unlawfully resist, delay or obstruct a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge an official duty, that person can be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. This charge is one level higher than a Class 3 misdemeanor from public intoxication and disruptiveness.
On top of that, while that person is being arrested and potentially resisting that arrest and serious injury is caused to an officer, that person can then be found guilty of a class I felony. However, if serious bodily injury is caused to the officer, the person resisting arrest could be found guilty of a class F felony.
Under that statute, serious bodily injury is defined as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes serious permanent disfigurement, coma, a permanent or protracted condition that causes extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or that results in prolonged hospitalization.
It is important to understand that mistakes can happen when alcohol is involved. Most importantly, individuals should be aware of the potential charges that could come about when they are reckless and drinking at tailgates, bars, or sporting events. Sporting events are supposed to be fun and for everyone to represent their team...do not make it more than that. It is not worth a lifelong record for picking a fight with a fan from the opposing team.
If faced with a scenario like this, please do not hesitate to call our experienced criminal defense team at Jetton & Meredith. Call 704.333.1114.