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Can You Be Arrested for Public Drunkenness in Nevada?

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Can You Be Arrested for Public Drunkenness in Nevada?


Many states still have laws regarding public intoxication. Nevada is not one of these states. In fact, the state has a reputation for being quite liberal about alcohol. Standard grocery stores can sell liquor, and there are no time restrictions for dedicated liquor stores. They can be open 24/7. Nevada even allows its citizens to openly drink in public, which many other states do not.

With all these facts taken together, it’s not surprising to find that simply being intoxicated in public is not a crime.

The problem, however, is the unruly behavior that often accompanies drunkenness. Nevada may not specifically criminalize drunkenness, but citizens can be arrested for disorderly conduct.

Nevada’s Disorder Conduct Penalties

Disorderly conduct is a broad charge. It can include acts such as disturbing the peace, challenging someone to a fight, and harassing others.

In Nevada, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines as high as $1,000.

Even though it is officially part of the potential consequences, jail time for disorderly conduct is rare in Nevada. Typically, courts put people in jail only if they are repeat offenders or if they miss appointed court dates.

Charges That Could Be Reduced

In some scenarios, your attorney could help you argue a misdemeanor battery charge down to a disorderly conduct charge.

If successful, this reduction in charges could have great benefits. First, it makes your record look better. Battery carries a strong stigma, insinuating that the alleged offender is a violent, unpredictable person. Potential employers and landlords can see a battery charge on your record and dismiss you outright.

Next, it is much easier to seal a disorderly conduct charge, erasing it from your record. Nevada allows you to seal these charges after one year, but you must wait two years to seal a battery conviction.

Defending Against a Disorderly Conduct Charge

Many effective strategies can help you fight this allegation.

You Did Not Disturb the Peace

Because disorderly conduct definitions are so broad, they are also easy to dispute. You could reasonably lay out the facts of your case, demonstrating that the arresting officer overreached. Put simply, your behavior may have been annoying, but that doesn’t make it illegal.

False Accusations

Police do not always have to witness a crime to make an arrest. Perhaps, in a drunken state, you irritated someone, and that person then accuses you of disorderly conduct. The police make an arrest based on someone else’s incorrect allegations.

Mistaken Identity

In a crowded bar, it’s easy to mistake one person for another. Perhaps someone else was engaged in some truly unruly behavior, and you took the blame.

Breach of First Amendment Rights

If someone is drunkenly wobbling in the streets, screaming threats, and cursing, police could reasonably arrest them for disorderly conduct. However, someone could get into a heated, civil discussion and voice an offensive opinion. If this results in an arrest, it could be a violation of this person’s First Amendment rights.

Our firm helps defend Nevada citizens from misdemeanor and felony accusations. If you need help, you can schedule time with us online or call us now at (775) 502-1575.

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