St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and with the holiday on a Friday this year, the festivities could last all weekend for some.
What does that mean?
While this is a holiday that features parades, sweet treats, and far too much “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” attire, everyone knows that those things are only a sideshow. In modern day America, what St. Patrick’s Day is really about is drinking.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. You should go out and enjoy the holiday weekend with a few drinks and friends if that’s your thing. However, you should also know that St. Paddy’s is a top holiday for having too many drinks and getting out of hand.
Here in Minnesota, public intoxication is not a crime. In fact, there’s a law in place specifically stating that drunkenness itself is not a criminal act, which is good news for St. Patrick’s Day partiers. You can still get a little wobbly while you’re bar hopping without worry – as long as you’re well behaved.
“Crimes of Drunkeness” That Can Put You Behind Bars
If things get out of hand, you could end your St. Patrick’s Day holiday with some time behind bars. What does “out of hand” mean?
Driving Under the Influence. Bar hop all you want this St. Patrick’s Day, but don’t get behind the wheel. Call a rideshare, party within walking distance, or ask the hosts if you can crash at their place and drive home safely the next day.
Disorderly Conduct. This is probably the closest crime Minnesota has to public drunkenness. Disorderly conduct is committed if someone says something offensive, obscene, or engages in noisy conduct that is meant to incite tension or alarm other people. Fighting with someone could also result in disorderly conduct charges.
If you are charged with this crime, know that the prosecution has to be able to prove that you had the intention to upset or provoke others. While being drunk is not a fantastic defense generally, it could help in this case.
Assault. If you get into a fight while you are drunk, you may end up with misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges – or something more serious. The most serious assault charges are felonies, but are only issued after a truly severe altercation. Generally speaking, a drunken spat with a bouncer or another person at the bar will be charged as a misdemeanor – unless you cause bodily harm to the other person.
Criminal Damage to Property. Stay away from hurting people and property. According to Minnesota law, “whoever intentionally causes damage to another person’s physical property without the other person’s consent may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both, if the damage reduces the value of the property by more than $500 but not more than $1,000 as measured by the cost of repair and replacement.”
That’s criminal property in the fourth degree. If you damage expensive property, or damage someone’s property as part of a hate crime, the penalties will be more expensive.
What Happens Next?
If you are arrested during St. Paddy’s Day weekend, you may be thrown in jail for a night, or you may be released pretty quickly. Be aware, however, that the police may throw you in a detox facility for up to 72 hours.
This process is meant to remove alcohol or drugs from the person’s system. These facilities are usually reserved for individuals suffering from serious drug addictions, but now law enforcement has the right to legally hold a person for up to three days in situations where they are publically intoxicated.
If you or a loved one needs a lawyer after an arrest or being placed in a detox hold facility, call a Minnesota lawyer immediately.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).