Austin’s party scene is the downtown Sixth Street area. Sixth Street is made of bars, restaurants, and several other music venues. Right next to these several bars is a unique little court called the Downtown Austin Community Court. If you get arrested for public intoxication (or any class C misdemeanor) in the Sixth Street area the odds are pretty good that’s where you’ll wind up.

Most offenses I see around Sixth Street are public intoxication charges. You can commit the offense of public intoxication if you are intoxicated to such a degree that you are a danger to yourself or others. It’s important to note that it’s not against the law to be intoxicated; it’s just against the law to be intoxicated to such a degree as to be a danger. Public Intoxication is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine only of up to $500. If you have two prior convictions for public intoxication it’s possible that you could be charged with a class B public intoxication charge (which is punishable by jail time).

Public intoxication is not something that you want permanently on your record. Your goal should be to get it dismissed so that it can ultimately be expunged. Usually, the best way to accomplish this is through a deferred disposition deal. A deferral will result in your case being dismissed. You will most likely have to pay a fine of around $150, perform eight hours of community service, and attend a public intoxication class.

How the Public Intoxication Deferral Process Works

If you were arrested for public intoxication within the jurisdiction of the Downtown Austin Community Court (i.e. the Sixth Street area), you will be magistrate by Judge Michael Coffey. Judge Coffey is extremely nice and fair. He may not be in the traditional black robe when you see him, but he’s still a judge so remember to dress appropriately and be respectful. Judge Coffey will usually go over your options and then give you the opportunity of setting your case for trial, paying a fine and taking a conviction, or meeting with a prosecutor. Often, it’s best to meet with the prosecutor where she will probably offer you a deferral.

In my experience as a prosecutor and defense attorney it’s clear that public intoxication cases can be difficult for a prosecutor to prove. Often, defendants aren’t passed out or throwing up; most of the time they are just in the wrong place. Occasionally, I see a case where it’s clear the client just mouthed off to officer—this is always a sure-fire way to get yourself arrested. Ninety percent of the time the officers never do any field sobriety tests. This often makes it hard for a prosecutor to secure a conviction. Bear in mind that if you were EXTREMELY intoxicated it will make the prosecutor’s job much easier.

Having said all that, you always have the right to hire an attorney. If you’d like to hire an attorney you will need to tell Judge Coffey and he will simply reset your case so that you can talk to one. Remember, while you do have the right to hire an attorney you do not have the right to have an attorney appointed to represent you.

Let Us Help You!

If you received a ticket for public intoxication in Austin, Texas (or any other class C offense) give us a call and we’ll tell the best way to handle the matter.

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