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Mississippi and Tennessee have similar laws about what public intoxication is and what the consequences of an arrest might be. Here are answers to some key questions about this common misdemeanor charge.

What laws does Mississippi have about public intoxication?

In Mississippi, public intoxication is treated as a misdemeanor criminal offense. State law defines the offense as being “drunk in any public place, in the presence of two or more persons.” A public place is any space in which you could reasonably expect your behavior to be seen by others.

What could happen if I’m charged with public intoxication in Mississippi?

Public intoxication can carry penalties such as a fine of up to $500 or 30 days in jail. Judges also have the option to sentence those convicted of public intoxication to a treatment program rather than charging them a fine or incarcerating them.

What are the laws about public intoxication in Tennessee?

State laws in Tennessee define public intoxication as appearing “in a public place under the influence of a controlled substance, controlled substance analogue or any other intoxicating substance” to such a degree that the intoxicated person endangers themselves, other people or property, or “unreasonably annoys people in the vicinity.” Public intoxication is considered a Class C misdemeanor

What are the consequences for public intoxication in Tennessee?

When someone is taken into custody for intoxication in Tennessee, state law requires the arresting officer to present the individual before a judicial officer. The judge then decides if “the citizen is in need of and willing to accept medical treatment for the citizen’s condition” and, if so, orders the arresting officer to deliver them to a treatment facility.

Because Tennessee’s response is treatment-based, the initial custody is technically considered “protective custody” rather than an arrest. If you accept the option for treatment, there should be no record of the arrest.

In situations where treatment is not possible – because there are no local facilities or the defendant refuses treatment – the defendant may face criminal penalties including up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $50.

What should I do if I’ve been charged with public intoxication?

Regardless of which state you were in when arrested for public intoxication, the first step to a successful defense is securing legal counsel. In public intoxication cases, potential defense angles include proving that you were not intoxicated or that the place you were in was not sufficiently public.

Amy Pietrowski is an experienced criminal defense attorney ready who fights for the best outcomes for her clients. Contact her today to talk about your case.

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