The two most common college crimes are Underage Drinking and Public Drunkenness cases. Since these matters are summary offenses, you will receive a ticket in the mail or at the scene citing you with the charges.
There is a timeframe in which you must plead guilty or not guilty. Pleading not guilty permits you to have a court hearing (summary trial) scheduled.
At that court date, it is typical that you will either have a trial or work out an agreement with the citing law enforcement officer.
(a) Offense defined.–A person commits a summary offense if he, being less than 21 years of age, attempts to purchase, purchases, consumes, possesses or knowingly and intentionally transports any liquor or malt or brewed beverages, as defined in section 6310.6 (relating to definitions).
For the purposes of this section, it shall not be a defense that the liquor or malt or brewed beverage was consumed in a jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction where the citation for underage drinking was issued.
(b) Penalty.–A person convicted of violating subsection (a) may be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $500 for the first violation and not more than $1,000 for the second and each subsequent violation.
(c) Preadjudication disposition.–
(1) When a person is charged with violating subsection (a), the magisterial district judge may admit the offender to the adjudication alternative as authorized in 42 Pa.C.S. § 1520 (relating to adjudication alternative program) or any other preadjudication disposition if the offender has not previously received a preadjudication disposition for violating subsection (a).
(2) The use of a preadjudication disposition shall be considered a first or subsequent offense, whichever is applicable, for the purpose of further adjudication under this section or under section 6310.4.
(d) Notification.–The police department making an arrest for a suspected violation of subsection (a) shall so notify the parents or guardian of the minor charged.
You cannot be guilty of Public Drunkenness unless you are manifestly under the influence AND are a danger to yourself or others.
If you are over 21 and charged with this offense it is important to remember that it is not enough to be intoxicated, you must also be a danger to yourself or others. This second element is where these cases typically fall in Court and at trial.
We need to examine the circumstances in which law enforcement contacted you and determine what, if any, outward signs of “danger to yourself or others” that you exhibited.
The situation, location, time of day/night are all important factors when determining if we have a viable trial issue. If we do not, we still want to attempt to get through the process without you having this criminal charge on your background.
There are often ways through negotiation or judge/county specific programs that we can accomplish this.
PA Law Codes Defined:
18 § 5505. Public drunkenness and similar misconduct.
(a) A person is guilty of a summary offense if he appears in any public place manifestly under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, as defined in the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, except those taken pursuant to the lawful order of a practitioner, as defined in The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, to the degree that he may endanger himself or other persons or property, or annoy persons in his vicinity.
A person convicted of violating this section may be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $500 for the first violation and not more than $1,000 for the second and each subsequent violation.