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Ali Kirk
Ali Kirk, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 244
Experience:  14+ years experience in misdemeanor and felony trials and appeals.
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Last night I was arrested in Stillwater Oklahoma for public

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Last night I was arrested in Stillwater Oklahoma for public intoxication walking down highway 51 going home. I believe I was arrested by Payne County sheriff. I'm 20 years old.

I have a friend who said I should get a lawyer, and his offered to defend me for $750.

How serious is this offense? I believe they filed it as municipal but I'm not sure. Should I hire the lawyer or defend myself? What kind of fine or other punishment am I looking at? I'm pretty damn scared right now after spending a night in county jail. I'm out on a PR Bond.
Thank you for your question, and your patience while I found the appropriate statute.

Public intoxication is addressed in Title 37, Chapter 1, Section 8 of the Oklahoma Statutes, copied below:

Any person who shall, in any public place, or in or upon any passenger coach, streetcar, or in or upon any other vehicle commonly used for the transportation of passengers, or in or about any depot, platform, waiting station or room, drink or otherwise consume any intoxicating liquor unless authorized by the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, intoxicating substance, or intoxicating compound of any kind, or inhale glue, paint or other intoxicating substance, or if any person shall be drunk or intoxicated in any public or private road, or in any passenger coach, streetcar, or any public place or building, or at any public gathering, from drinking or consuming such intoxicating liquor, intoxicating substance or intoxicating compound or from inhalation of glue, paint or other intoxicating substance, or if any person shall be drunk or intoxicated from any cause and shall disturb the peace of any person, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not less than Ten Dollars ($10.00), nor more than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00), or by imprisonment for not less than five (5) days nor more than thirty (30) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

I highlighted the relevant parts for you. As you can see, public intoxication is a misdemeanor, and the penalties are minor, a fine of between $10-$100, and possible jail time between 5-30 days, or both. Quite honestly, I would not expect you to receive more than a fine, especially if this is a first offense.

I understand being worried, and maybe a little scared after spending a night in jail, but if this was a major crime, you wouldn't have been released on your own recognizance, either. Really this was just a mistake in judgment on your part. It easily could have been someone else, last night it was you.

As for needing a lawyer, you probably don't in this situation. You could probably show up, and try to plea no-contest and ask for a withhold of adjudication (withholding of guilt). This way, there will be no finding of guilt on your record, and you may be able to expunge your record later.

That being said, it certainly would not hurt you to at least talk to a local criminal defense attorney, just to see what they have to say. There may be defenses available to you in this situation, or they may be able to work out a different deal for you. Typically, attorneys with 1-5 years experience offer lower fees, and some offer free consultations as well.

Good luck to you. If you have any additional questions, please press the reply button, and I will be happy to assist you further.

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Will there be any additional punishments that the county or city could add on to that $10-100 fine?

Your answer was very detailed and made me feel a lot better as my friend made it seem a whole lot worse. He acted as though it was almost as bad as a DUI. Thank you so much.

I noticed you said try to plea no-contest. Is there a reason I would not be allowed to make that plea?

Also, I'm interning with a fortune 500 corp. this summer. They have already ran my background check, but will this show up or reflect negatively upon me in the future?
Thank you for your reply.

Do you know for sure if they charged this as a municipal offense? Upon re-reading, I see you said you think they did, but aren't sure. The reason I ask is because interestingly enough, if it is charged as a municipal offense, in the City of Stillwater, public intoxication can result in similar, but stronger penalties (in lieu of those imposed under state statute), which leads me to revise my original answer somewhat.

Public intoxication in Stillwater is a "Class A" offense, punishable by a fine of up to $500 maximum (no minimum), plus court costs, and jail time up to 90 days (again, no minimum mandatory amount), or both.

I still feel like as a first offense, it is highly unlikely you would get jail time, rather, you would get a fine and costs imposed against you. I still do not think you necessarily need an attorney for this, though I do think you should at least talk to a couple of criminal defense attorneys to see what they would offer you. If they tell you that all they could do would be to plea you to a no-contest and get try to get adjudication withheld, well, you could probably do that yourself, so hiring a lawyer would be a waste. If they feel that you could get a better deal, then maybe it's worth hiring them. Since this is such a minor offense, I'm not sure how much an attorney could help you, really, other than they can help you through the process and give you piece of mind.

As for why you wouldn't necessarily be able to plea no-contest? The judge has to agree to it -that's not usually an issue for such a petty offense, especially for a first-time offender, but they could always tell you that no, you would have to plead guilty.

If the background check has already been done, you're probably in the clear, unless they for some reason want to do another one -the arrest will show up on a background check, which is why, when the case is finally resolved, you want to see about getting the record expunged (destroyed) so that it doesn't show up in the future.

Oh, and the reason your friend and some lawyers treat it like a DUI is probably because it is "grouped" within the DUI laws as an alcohol related offense. The consequences, however, for public intoxication are far, far less serious though. A DUI, even for a first time offender in Oklahoma, has some very tough penalties attached to it.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
How would I find out the exact charges? I was given nothing aside from a PR Bond that I signed. Should I not have received a summons or some other document detailing the charges against me?
Yes, you should have received something, I would have thought, like a charging affidavit or notice to appear (but every state is different, too). It's possible they're going to send you something in the mail. You could probably find out by calling the Payne County Sheriff's office and seeing if they have paperwork, or the Clerk of Court on Monday (though since this just happened they might not have anything yet).