Can I Get Arrested for Public Intoxication in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, public intoxication is not a crime, but other alcohol-related issues may be. For example, if police are called because a “drunk man” is wandering around a residential neighborhood, the man will likely be assisted home, or into protective custody until he sobers up. However, if that same man gets angry and punches an inquisitive neighbor moments before the police arrive, he may end up facing assault charges.

In addition to assault charges, people who are publicly intoxicated can make a slew of other illegal mistakes, such as getting behind the wheel of a car or vandalizing the property of another. Police may also discover other issues when questioning an individual who appears to be intoxicated, such as finding a weapon or illegal drugs on his or her person. However, public intoxication itself remains a nuisance, not a crime. If you are arrested for alcohol-related charges, contact a Boston criminal defense attorney today.

When public intoxication becomes enough of an issue that law enforcement steps in, the intoxicated individual can be taken into custody. This does not constitute an arrest. Police may escort the person home, to the hospital, or even to the police station for protective custody. If police determine that the hospital or police station is the appropriate destination, they must first inform the intoxicated individual of his or her right to take a breathalyzer test. Once the person sobers up, he or she may be released from protective custody.

What is Disorderly Conduct?

As public intoxication is not a crime, there are no specific penalties. That is, unless aggravating circumstances existed, such as drunk driving, possession of weapons or drugs, assault, or disorderly conduct. In fact, charges of disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace often accompany public intoxication cases. So, what actually constitutes disorderly conduct?

You are considered to be a “disorderly person” if you engage in fighting, threatening behavior, excessively noisy behavior or violent behavior, or if you purposely create dangerous conditions to annoy or scare others. For example, you can be arrested for disorderly conduct for screaming in a residential neighborhood late at night. You can also be charged with disorderly conduct for excessively using lewd or offensive speech in public.

If you are convicted of disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, you may receive a fine of up to $150 for a first offense. If this is your second or subsequent conviction, you may spend up to six months in jail and receive a fine of up to $200. If you have been arrested for disorderly conduct, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.


Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm

If you have been charged with any type of alcohol-related offense, the skilled defense team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have extensive experience in this area of the law and an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced, or dismissed altogether. If you have been arrested, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Even if your charges seem minor, a criminal record is a criminal record. It can negatively impact your ability to get a job or housing, and it can even affect your custody rights.

Don’t let a drunken mistake ruin your life. At Altman & Altman, LLP, we have more than five decades of experience fighting for the rights of individuals charged with criminal offenses. We will analyze the details of your case and position you for the best possible outcome. It is our goal to protect your rights, reputation, and freedom so that you can get on with your life. If you’ve been charged with any type of crime, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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