What is a public intoxication charge in North Carolina?

While North Carolina law doesn’t allow for prosecution against people for merely being intoxicated in public, it does provide charges specifically for people who are intoxicated and acting in a disruptive manner in public. According to the statute, disruptive behaviors include blocking or interfering with traffic, blocking or interfering with the access and passage across a sidewalk, and grabbing, shoving, pushing, fighting, cursing, shouting, insulting and begging for money or property.

Some of these behaviors could be punishable as misdemeanors on their own, but when combined with public intoxication, they could result in a class 3 misdemeanor charge, which could lead to fines, jail time or other serious penalties.

Alcoholism is a defense to the charges. This means that that charges may be reduced if the court rules that the defendant suffers from alcoholism. However, if the court determines that the defendant suffers from alcoholism, the judge may order an investigation into the defendant’s drinking history. There may also be an order to undergo treatment.

Of course, many North Carolina residents facing these charges may also feel a profound embarrassment about their circumstances, but that doesn’t mean they should give up and throw themselves on the mercy of the court. North Carolina residents who are accused of crimes are entitled to a defense, and it’s important that the accused have experienced legal counsel to help them craft the best defense strategy they can.

Source: North Carolina Code, Article 59, Section 14, “Public Intoxication,”