Understanding Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct in Illinois

Clinking Glasses with Beer — Waukegan, IL — Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLC

Many relatively minor crimes begin the same way: a moment of poor judgment or emotional action that ultimately leads to a night spent in jail. While everyone makes mistakes, some mistakes can be much more costly than others. Unfortunately, alcohol can often cause a lapse in judgment that may lead to severe consequences.

You don’t need to worry about public intoxication charges in Illinois. The police cannot arrest you for simply being drunk in public, nor can they fine or charge you with any crime. However, you may not understand how this works in practice and how drunk conduct in public may lead to legal trouble.

What’s the Difference Between Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct?

Public intoxication is often considered to be a criminal offense, even if you do not behave in an illegal way. These laws are relatively uncommon in the United States today, although several states still have them or allow local governments to pass similar laws.

While public intoxication isn’t a crime in Illinois, alcohol can contribute to several other possible offenses. For example, you cannot drink alcohol in public places in Chicago. You also may be charged with disorderly conduct if you behave in a way that disturbs the peace while intoxicated. In many cases, the line between public intoxication and disorderly conduct can be blurry.

Illinois’s disorderly conduct laws are relatively broad in scope and can cover a range of possible offenses. These activities can include loud arguments, obstructing streets, playing music too loudly, entering private property, and other disturbances or breaches of the peace. The law is broad enough to cover many disturbances that might have previously fallen under public intoxication statutes.

Is Disorderly Conduct a Serious Charge?

The penalties for disorderly conduct can vary based on the specific charges and any aggravating circumstances. At a minimum, disorderly conduct is a Class C misdemeanor in Illinois, which means you may face a fine and jail time. Certain offenses that fall under disorderly conduct can have more severe penalties or even qualify as felonies.

In addition to the immediate legal consequences, you may also face long-term issues resulting from a disorderly conduct conviction. Misdemeanors will go onto your criminal record, which can ultimately show up on background checks conducted by future employers, landlords, and educational institutions. These impacts can continue to affect your life for many years.

If you’ve only faced relatively minor traffic violations or other non-criminal infractions in the past, then you need to understand that a disorderly conduct misdemeanor is much more severe. If you plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence, you may have severe consequences, so you shouldn’t take this decision take lightly.

Should You Get a Lawyer for Disorderly Conduct?

You should always consult with a criminal defense attorney whenever you face criminal charges. Because the consequences of accepting a conviction are so high, you need to work with an experienced law firm that can carefully review your case. You should start your defense as early as possible to give you the best chance of a more favorable outcome.

Every disorderly conduct case is unique, and attorneys with experience fighting these charges can help you approach your defense from multiple angles. Your lawyers will also examine the documentation produced by the police, including the police report and any accompanying evidence, to look for flaws in the prosecution’s case or other procedural issues.

Even if your case doesn’t ultimately go to trial, a criminal defense attorney can help you negotiate with the prosecution to receive the best deal possible. If you have an attorney on your side during this process, you’ll receive fair treatment and better understand the consequences of any deal you choose to accept.

Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLC has experience and expertise in dealing with a wide range of criminal offenses in Illinois. If you’re facing a disorderly conduct charge, don’t hesitate to contact us and begin mounting your defense today.

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