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What are the guidelines surrounding public intoxication arrests?

Harrisonburg, VA |

Arrested for public intoxication and held for 20 hours. I am trying to find out if this is normal. Are there guidelines in place or is it up to the facility? 20 hours seems like a bit too long. I thought there was a time limit on how long they can hold you? The defendant is under age, does that make it different?
Also, this happened in Harrisonburg on campus. Thanks for any advise. We don't plan to just lay down on this. I feel like something was done wrong.

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Attorney answers 4


With public intoxication being a non-jailable offense, it is outrageous that police turn that fact on its head with hours-long detentions for such charges. I believe that such detentions are unconstitutional, and discuss such detentions further in the link below. I would hope that the Virginia ACLU would wish to take action against such detentions if it receives complaints from several victims of such police behavior.

All the best to you. Jon

None of my comments on AVVO's website constitute legal advice. It is only food for thought for matters to address with a qualified laywer. My website's disclaimer page at applies to all my answers on .


While being held for public intoxication generally ends when the intoxication ends, it is possible that an underage person is being held on other charges such as underage possession of alcohol. Consult with a local criminal defense attorney.

To learn about Kevin R. Pettrey, Esq. go to or call (757) 550-0000. Please remember that if you find an answer particularly helpful, please mark it as helpful or "best answer" so that the attorneys who volunteer their time to answer these questions have feedback. This answer is only for informational purposes, is not legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and must be judged on its own unique facts.


Dear Harrisonburg – the local police are well-known for"Working over "college students there. Since the youth was arrested, the more fuss you make over how long he was detained, the less of a "deal" he will likely receive in his punishment for the crimes. Keep that in mind. Brad Moyers is a former prosecutor in Harrisonburg – you might want to contact him.


You may be correct. The defendant might be able to file a complaint. One of the consequences of such a complaint could be the CA taking a hard line against the accused. See a local criminal law attorney with experience in the local court's and make sure the accused understands the consequences of pressing the issues (which may turn out to be completely legal).

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