As is the case with the criminal laws of many other states, the California Penal Code criminalizes public intoxication. People who are charged with public intoxication thus may face having a criminal record in the event they are convicted as charged.
Under California law, public intoxication is charged as a type of disorderly conduct and is a misdemeanor offense. An officer may alternatively instead place a person they believe to be intoxicated in civil protective custody for up to 72 hours. People who are placed in civil protective custody will not thereafter be charged criminally. If an officer believes that they will not reasonably be able to place the person in protective custody, the officer may charge the person criminally and arrest them.
Public intoxication laws are in place to protect intoxicated people from harming themselves or others. People may be charged if they appear to be intoxicated with alcohol or drugs while out in public. Prosecutors must also generally prove that the person's behavior was out of control enough to pose a safety risk to others around them. People may be able to raise defenses including that they were not intoxicated and did not appear to be so.
Many college students are charged with public intoxication. They may want to seek help from a criminal defense attorney in order to fight the charges against them. If an officer has asked a person to step outside of a private place and then charges them with public intoxication, they may want to make certain to inform their lawyer. An attorney might be able to identify defenses to the charge in order to attack the allegations and save their client's criminal record.