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Public intoxication and disorderly conduct in Tennessee


Public intoxication and disorderly conduct in Tennessee

On behalf of Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law | 
June 4, 2019

Nashville is a great place to visit. But sometimes, things can get out of hand in this city. If the bar gets too rowdy, you may face criminal charges for disturbing the peace.

The Tennessee penal code has an entire chapter that addresses a wide variety of offenses that threaten public safety, health and welfare. Here are some common criminal acts that fall under this category and the penalties for committing them.

Disorderly conduct

Here is the type of disorderly conduct that Tennessee law prohibits:

  • Threatening or fighting behavior
  • Making unreasonable noises to annoy people
  • Creating a hazardous environment with no legitimate reason
  • Failing to obey an official order to leave an area during an emergency

Behavior that is offensive, annoying or harmful may land you with disorderly conduct charges.

Public intoxication

A public intoxication involves the following factors:

  • Appearing under the influence of alcohol or drugs in public
  • Endangering oneself
  • Endangering other people or property
  • Unreasonably annoying others

However, simply being drunk in public is not a criminal offense in Tennessee. It is only unlawful if it poses a danger or annoyance.

Criminal penalties

Both public intoxication and disorderly conduct are Class C misdemeanors. The maximum penalties are 30 days of jail time and a $50 fine.

Treatment instead of punishment

It is important to note that Tennessee laws also favor treatment over penalties in certain situations regarding intoxication. If you are drunk but not putting anyone in danger or being unreasonably annoying, the police may take you into protective custody and bring you to a treatment center. The police do not make any records of arrest when taking someone to get treatment.

Challenging the charges

Even if you are dealing with charges for being disorderly or drunk in public, it may not end with a conviction. You may be able to challenge the charges by claiming the conduct is not dangerous or public.

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