This guide provides a brief description of a drunk in public charge, what will happen in court, and why you should hire an attorney.
Classification and penalty
In Virginia, Drunk in Public, Virginia Code 18.2-388, is a class 4 misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $250.
Why you need an attorney.
If you go to court without a criminal defense attorney your choices are to plead guilty or not guilty to Drunk in Public. The judge will give you a fine if you plead guilty. If you plead not guilty the officer will testify about what they observed. They do not need to give you a breath test. Judges usually believe the officer’s testimony, find the defendant guilty, and impose a fine. Drunk in Public is a misdemeanor even though it is only punishable by a fine. A misdemeanor conviction may cause a negative impact on employment, security clearances, admission to school, and professional certifications. Without an attorney it is unlikely that your charge will be dismissed.
An attorney will have the opportunity to help you prepare for your court date. This includes interviewing the client and witnesses about what happened to develop possible defenses. Your attorney may also recommend that you complete a substance abuse evaluation, participate in substance abuse education or counseling, gather reference letters, complete community service, provide a resume, and or write a personal history. The attorney can use all of this material to help negotiate the best possible which is ideally a dismissal. After speaking with the prosecutor, your attorney will help you decide whether or not you should accept the deal or take the the case to trial.
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