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One of the most common criminal charges in the Myrtle Beach and surrounding Grand Strand area is either a Disorderly Conduct or Public Intoxication charge. Tourists come to Myrtle Beach for various reasons, such as Spring Break, Golf Trips, or family outings. However, alcohol and unfamiliar surroundings can lead to unwanted criminal charges.

Understanding the Differences

Disorderly Conduct:

  • Statute: South Carolina Statute 16-17-530.
  • Elements: Alcohol or impairment is not a required element. It includes behaviors like using obscene language in public, discharging firearms near roads, or being grossly intoxicated in public.
  • Penalty: Up to $100 fine or 30 days in jail.

Public Intoxication:

  • Ordinance: Typically charged under city ordinances, such as Sec 14-66 in Myrtle Beach.
  • Elements: Requires intoxication or impairment due to alcohol or substances, leading to disorderly conduct or public menace.
  • Penalty: Up to 30 days in jail or a fine.

Court Procedures

  • Court: Both charges are handled in Magistrate or Municipal Court, which generally hear cases with penalties of no more than 30 days in jail.
  • Trial: Unless a jury trial is requested, cases are set for a bench trial.

Rights and Legal Process

  1. Right to a Jury Trial: The prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  2. Right to Discovery: You can request all relevant materials related to your case.
  3. Right to Legal Counsel: Hiring experienced legal counsel can significantly impact the outcome.
  4. Right to Remain Silent: You can choose not to testify against yourself.
  5. Right to Face Accusers: You have the right to cross-examine witnesses.

Preventing a Lasting Conviction

Each case is unique, and there are often ways to resolve these charges without a lasting conviction. Factors such as lack of prior convictions and proper legal representation play a crucial role. For specific advice, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Statutes for Reference

SECTION 16-17-530. Public disorderly conduct:

  • Gross intoxication or disorderly behavior in public places.
  • Use of obscene language in public.
  • Discharging firearms near public roads.

Sec. 14-66. Public intoxication or impairment:

  • Defines public intoxication and impairment due to alcohol or substances.
  • Specifies public places where this ordinance applies.

Conclusion

Understanding the charges of Disorderly Conduct and Public Intoxication, along with your rights and legal options, is crucial. For personalized advice, it is best to consult with a criminal defense attorney. This article is meant to provide a general overview and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal counsel.

For further information or a free case evaluation, contact our office to speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys.