The Texas Penal Code defines public intoxication as follows: A person commits the offense of Public Intoxication if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may be a danger to themselves or others. The elements that the state must prove are as follows:
1. A person.
2. That was in a public place.
3. That person was intoxicated.
4. The person was intoxicated to the degree that they may be a danger to themselves or others.
"Public place" within the meaning of the public intoxication statute is defined as any place to which the public or substantial group of the public has access, and includes but is not limited to streets, highways, and common areas of schools, hospitals, apartment houses, official buildings, transportation facilities, and shops, and a place may be a public one or not according to the circumstances. V.T.C.A., Penal Code §§ 1.07(a)(29), 42.08(a).
One common question is what if an intoxicated person is in their own front yard? If a person is sitting in their own front yard, is that considered a public place according to the public intoxication statute? The state could argue that yes, "a place may be a public one or not according to the circumstances." How you might ask? Well, does a mail man have access to the front door of your house? Or how about a pizza delivery person? Would you call the police if someone walked across your front lawn? Would you be upset if a member of the general public walked up to your front door without being invited?
The truth is that most of us would allow certain people onto our property under limited circumstances as stated above, but would you allow "the public or a substantial group of the public in to your front yard"? I would argue that the public or a substantial group of the public does not have a right to come onto my front porch.
The Texas Penal code defines "Intoxicated" as not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. Intoxication alone is not enough to convict a person in Texas for public intoxication. In order to have public intoxication, not only must someone be "intoxicated," but they must be "intoxicated" to the degree that they may be a danger to themselves or others.
If someone gets arrested or ticketed for Public Intoxication in Travis County or anywhere in Austin, Texas they may go to one of several different courts to fight their case.
1. The Downtown Austin Community Court: if a person is arrested in downtown Austin, (6th street), the warehouse district, and possibly as far away as west campus you are likely going to the downtown Austin community court.
2. Austin Municipal Court
3. Travis County Justice of the Peace precinct 1
4. Travis County Justice of the Peace precinct 2
5. Travis County Justice of the Peace precinct 3
6. Travis County Justice of the Peace precinct 4
7. Travis County Justice of the Peace precinct 5
Disclaimer: This site and any information contained within this site is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The excerpts taken from the Texas Penal Code, and other Texas Codes are not all-inclusive. Furthermore, due to the rapidly shifting nature of the law, we make no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or reliability of the content at this site. Do not attempt to interpret the law. You should consult an attorney for advice on any legal matter.
Stella janci is a legal journalist in Austin, Texas.
Stella Janci works with children, individuals, couples, geriatric patients, depression, bipolar, anxiety and substance abuse. Please visit http://www.swayzelawoffice.com for any further information.
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