Legal Question in DUI Law in California

647 F PC First time in court. Im 19 years old, go to a reputable 4 yr university, and looking to go to medical school. I had a rough week of midterms so my friends and I decided to go to Santa Barbara (IV) party on Halloween.

Honestly, I got so drunk I don't even remember how I got to jail. I was apprehended that weekend and was placed in a holding facility with other college students. They told me I was charged with 647F PC, told me I had to go to court on a certain date. I have never been pulled over, never got a speeding ticket, and never been in trouble with the law. I do extensive community service. I don't mind doing more community service, and paying a fine. All I care about is that this is off my record, so when medical schools/jobs do a background check this will not show up.

What are my options? Is an attorney worth it? Will this be off my record after paying the fine and possibly taking a youthful offender class? I heard there were over 700+ students apprehended that weekend, I dont think they are going to find guilty each and every one of them.


Asked on 11/23/09, 1:48 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

Robert Marshall Law Office of Robert L, Marshall

As a person who is planning on going to medical school, let me ask you this: what would you think of a doctor who tried to diagnose a potentially serious condition over the Internet without personally examining the patient, reviewing his medical history and conducting appropriate tests?

In order to get an intelligent answer to a legal question, an attorney will have to review all of the police reports and evidence against you. Due to the high stakes for your future, it is definitely worth investing in an attorney to represent you.

In order to convict you of Penal Code 647(f), the prosecution will have to prove that you were so drunk that you couldn't exercise care for yourself or others, or that you were passed out and blocking a street or sidewalk.

Since you are under 21, a conviction of this offense will also result in a one-year drivers license suspension.

Most college towns have become much more aggressive about prosecuting alcohol-related crimes, due to highly publicized incidents where young people have died of alcohol poisoning and in other alcohol related accidents, or committed crimes while under the influence.

Read more
Answered on 11/28/09, 2:01 pm
Arthur Khachatourians Tyler & Wilson

Call me directly to discuss all of your options 818.590.8294 Arthur Khachatourians.

Read more
Answered on 11/28/09, 3:45 pm
Dave Jake Schwartz

You should find a local attorney and discuss all options with him/her. It is true that many jurisdictions will prosecute a 647(f), but many also allow some sort of community service, diversion, or combination of fines and AA meetings, etc, to dismiss the charges, or to conditionally dismiss (the condition being no further adverse contact with law enforcement for a specified period of time).

Sometimes a district attorney needs some persuading such as actually setting a case for trial and some pre-trial work before agreeing to a better resolution. This is why getting a local lawyer who understands the local players and available local options can be so vital to obtaining a resolution which is acceptable to you. A local lawyer can also tell you whether substantial AA attendance prior to your first court date, or prior to resolution of your case, might soften the DA's position.

Finally, sometimes the best and only way to obtain an acceptable resolution is to actually go to trial. Most "drunk in public" charges are hard for the government to prove because the DA must prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you were so intoxicated that you were unable to exercise care for yours or others safety, not just "drunk," or, because of your intoxication, you were obstructing a public way. Obviously you would need a good lawyer to maximize your chances of success.

Also remember that you may explore expungement options if you do emerge with a conviction. In most cases, someone may withdraw a guilty plea or verdict following successful completion of probation in a case such as this one, and the court will dismiss the case so that one can honestly say on most applications for private employment that this incident never happened. The benefits of expungement are limited, and may not apply in a medical licensing context so this is yet another reason to consult with an attorney.

Good luck,


Read more
Answered on 11/29/09, 11:57 am
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

"Off your record"? If convicted or you plea bargain to it, your record is forever. That's the whole point of 'records'. You've stated no facts or defenses that would make anyone think you can go to trial and 'beat it'. You admit you were essentially dead drunk. You face an unsympathetic DA and judge. If this arrest was in Santa Barbara, find a local criminal attorney there that handles case and discuss ALL the facts and defenses [probably none] with him. Sometimes first offenses can be 'plea bargained' such that you won't serve much if any jail time, but you should expect fines, fees, costs, probation, etc, in addition to attorney fees. In some cases, you MIGHT be able to get some form of 'terminal disposition', meaning you plead to the charge but are not sentenced, and then if you have no further arrests for a year or two, instead of sentencing you, the court and DA would dismiss the charges. In other cases, they will sometimes sentence you to attend alcohol school, and then dismiss the charges upon completion. It's up to your attorney to work on that. If this is in LA/OC instead, then feel free to contact me.

Read more
Answered on 11/30/09, 4:02 pm

Related Questions & Answers

More Drunk Driving & DUI Law questions and answers in California