In Brooklyn and the rest of New York, public intoxication is defined in more specific terms than many other areas of the country. While many other jurisdictions equate intoxication with drunkenness, the laws found in the New York penal code draw distinctions between being drunk from alcohol consumption and intoxication due to the use of other substances. Knowing this one fact makes it easier to understand how scenarios involving different types of substances would influence what sort of legal issues could arise.
What is Found in the New York Penal Code?
The most relevant article within the New York penal code relating to public intoxication is found in Article 240. Specifically, section 240.40 of the Offenses Against Public Order identifies the act of appearing in a public place while intoxicated from the use of narcotics or any substance other than alcohol as a violation. Violations are not the same as misdemeanors or felonies. Typically, a violation may lead to spending a maximum of 15 days in jail or a similar facility.
Does This Exclude Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol?
While it’s true that the focus of Article 240 is on public intoxication caused by something other than alcohol, there are other articles within the penal code that do address issues like driving while under the influence of alcohol. For example, Section 1192 of Article 31 provides the basis for taking legal action if someone is driving while under the influence. This particular section addresses a number of scenarios, including a driver under the legal age driving while intoxicated, or having a minor child in the vehicle while it is in operation. The provisions within that section do provide the basis for law enforcement officers to take action to take the drunken party into custody and could pave the way for some type of charge.
Can an Officer Take In a Pedestrian Who is Publicly Intoxicated?
While public intoxication in Brooklyn is not considered a felony or misdemeanor, certain circumstances will allow an officer to take the individual into custody. In most cases, the form of custody is determined by the actions taken by the individual and the ability of that person to make rational decisions.
A person who is intoxicated but appears to present no harm to others or to the individual proper may be taken into what is known as protective custody. This generally means that an officer will observe the actions of the intoxicated individual and ask if he or she would like to be escorted to a secure location such as a hospital or a care facility. If the individual provides consent, the officer is free to take the person to any of the institutions within Brooklyn designated for monitoring the condition of intoxicated individuals.
The officer also has some authority to take the individual into protective custody if the level of intoxication appears so severe that the person is incapable of responding to questions or understanding what is happening. A person who has passed out can also be placed into protective custody and taken to a care facility.
Violent Behavior and Public Intoxication
While public drunkenness is not considered a misdemeanor or felony in Brooklyn, violent actions by someone who is under the influence of alcohol or some other substance could result in charges of some type. For example, if the intoxicated individual lashes out and assaults one or more people, charges can be filed and the individual can be taken to a local police department for evaluation and processing. Depending on the severity of the violence, officers may utilize whatever forms of restraint are necessary to prevent the individual from self-harm as well as causing additional harm to others.
What About Cases of Physical Distress?
An intoxicated person who appears to have difficulty breathing or exhibits some other kind of physical distress can be treated as an emergency case by officers. In this scenario, medical authorities are typically alerted and appear on the scene to provide transport to a hospital or other care facility. In the interim, the officer will remain on guard and seek to provide assistance in whatever way is appropriate.
What Sort of Charges Can Result?
Many of the possible criminal and civil issues arising from public intoxication have to do with what the person does while under the influence. This is true for being under the influence of alcohol as well as intoxication related to the use of other substances.
Possession of illegal substances may be involved if the individual is high because of ingesting some medication or drug obtained without a prescription. Damage to public property or to private property owned by a business or company would also be sufficient grounds for filing charges. Should the actions of the individual result in injury to one or more people, criminal action could result.
When there is the potential for criminal charges or civil suits to develop, seeking help from a lawyer who deals with cases involving public intoxication is a wise move. Based on the evidence available and the testimonies of anyone who witnessed the events involved, the lawyer will seek to ensure the client’s rights are protected during any court proceedings or negotiations with the other parties affected by the incident.
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