January 12, 2016- Colonial Heights, VA
Megan Fulcher, 28, a former member of the Hopewell Police Department, was arrested around 2:00 AM Monday night, after reportedly causing a disturbance at Benny’s Tavern in Colonial Heights.
According to NBC 12 News, Fulcher allegedly disrobed in the bar, before running out onto the Boulevard. She now faces a charge of being drunk in public as a result of her arrest.
While the law respects the rights of Virginians to have a good time, that right is not unlimited. Once a party-goer’s behavior affects the rights and/or safety of others, police may charge that individual with the crime of being drunk in public.
Intoxication or drunkenness, as defined in Virginia Code §4.1-100, is a condition in which someone has consumed enough alcoholic drinks to observably affect that person’s manner, disposition, speech, muscular movement, general appearance or behavior.
Intoxication is not limited to alcohol consumption; according to Virginia Code §18.2-388, intoxication also includes within its definition use of drugs or other intoxicants.
To be considered “in public” under the law, courts turn to the language of Virginia Code §4.1-100, which defines a public place as any place, building or conveyance where the public has access or is permitted to have access.
In Virginia, being drunk in public is typically a misdemeanor “ticket” offense with a fine of up to $250.00. For many, it may appear easier to simply pay the fine since there’s typically no jail time attached.
However, Virginians should keep in mind that Virginia considers payment of the fine an admission of guilt.
To keep a public intoxication charge from appearing on one’s permanent adult criminal record, those charged with public intoxication should not plead guilty and consult an experienced defense attorney, like those at ReidGoodwin, as soon as possible.