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What Happens to my Public Drunkenness Charge in Municipal Court?Posted on by Townsend Myers
Public drunkenness (or public intoxication) is a violation of the New Orleans Municipal Code, Section 54-405. It is a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to five months in the Parish Prison and/or a fine of up to $500. What happens to your case depends on whether or not you are arrested, and how you plead when you appear in court.
No test for intoxication is required by the law, nor is there any objective standard by which a subject’s level of intoxication is to be measured. Rather, the law assumes that a law enforcement officer will make a subjective determination about an individual’s level of intoxication and potential to harm themselves or someone else before making a decision to cite someone for the offense.
An officer’s subjective determination that you were both (a) manifestly under the influence, and (b) a danger to yourself or the public, is difficult to dispute. Remember, there is no objective test for intoxication, so it is the officer’s word alone.
Upon being cited for the offense, a law enforcement officer has two options:
- Arrest you for the offense, or
- Issue you a summons to appear in court
Let’s looks at each scenario in turn. (more…)
Louisiana Legislators Tackle Marijuana ReformPosted on by Townsend Myers
A number of marijuana-related bills have been introduced before the Louisiana State Legislature, which began the 2014 session today in Baton Rouge. Among the marijuana-related bills this legislative session are the following:
S.B. 323 (Sen. Morrell and Adley) which reduces criminal penalties for marijuana possession and prohibits application of enhanced sentencing laws to second and subsequent offense marijuana possession. This law would reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana to a fine of $100 or six months in jail, and strike entirely the second and subsequent offense provisions of the law that made possession of marijuana a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison for multiple offenses.
The less progressive H.B. 14 (Rep. Badon) is still a step in the right direction. It reduces the maximum penalties for subsequent marijuana possession convictions from 5 to 2 years (for a second offense), and from 20 to 5 years (for a third offense). (more…)
Tips to Avoid Trouble During Mardi GrasPosted on by Townsend Myers
It’s Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, and that means a whole lot of fun for most people, but trouble for some people. As a criminal defense attorney for 20 years, I’ve certainly helped hundreds of people get themselves out of trouble during Mardi Gras, but I’ve also learned an number of ways to try to help people stay out of trouble in the first place during this time of year, and I wanted to offer a few tips about that.
Tip No. 1: Drink Responsibly
The first tip would be to try to drink responsibly. Inevitably, Mardi Gras leads to people drinking less responsibly than they otherwise would, but in my experience 90% of problems that arise during this time of year arise because people have had too much to drink. So to the extent that you can manage your drinking, I think you can avoid a lot of the other problems that I’m about to discuss.
Tip No. 2: Avoid Rowdy and Obnoxious Behavior
The second general tip is to avoid are rowdy and obnoxious confrontations with other individuals. Whether they are verbal or escalate to physical confrontations, aggressive or obnoxious behavior toward other people is generally going to result in some kind of involvement from law enforcement, and potential criminal problems for you.
Tip No. 3: Don’t Argue with Police Officers
The above is especially true with respect to confrontations with police officers. There are a lot of police officers on the street during Mardi Gras. They are going to be asking you to move. They are going to be asking you to stop doing certain things. You may feel that you have a right to be where you are, or to be doing the thing that you are doing, but you are not going to win that argument with a police officer. So just listen kindly, and move on. (more…)
Tips for Filing Expungements in New Orleans Area Criminal CourtsPosted on by Townsend Myers
Having spent a majority of my life as a criminal defense attorney, one of the questions I get asked frequently is how to get a criminal charge removed from your record. The process – known as an expungement - in Louisiana criminal courts is both simple and complex: simple, in that it doesn’t require and vast legal knowledge to complete the required paperwork; but complex, in that the procedures for preparing, filing and processing the paperwork can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you are doing.
Because it can be so confusing for someone to navigate the expungement process, I recommend hiring a lawyer to help. But, the law allows individuals to prepare and file expungements on their own – without a lawyer. So, if you are so bold as to wade into this on your own, here are a few tips to help you:
1. Know where you need to file before you start.
You expungement needs to be filed with the Clerk of Court in the courthouse where your conviction was entered. In the New Orleans area (including the suburban jurisdictions) there are at least 10 different possibilities of where this is. The Clerk of Court, or a local criminal defense lawyer can help you figure out where you need to file so you don’t waste your time and effort filing in the wrong courthouse. (more…)