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People v. Favreau: Man in His Hotel Room Cannot Be Convicted of Disorderly Person-Public Intoxication

October 16, 2008 Criminal Law and Procedure

The Court of Appeals in People v. Favreau ruled that Defendant’s conviction for disorderly person was improper because a hotel room is not a public place. The disorderly person public intoxication statute requires a person to be intoxicated in a public place for a conviction.

The Case Facts

Defendant was staying overnight in a hotel room he was renting. People in neighboring rooms complained there was loud music coming from his room. Defendant’s girlfriend was seen in the lobby with a bloody noise. Hotel management called police. Police arrested defendant for disorderly conduct. When the police entered the room Defendant was quiet but intoxicated. During the search upon arrest, police found cocaine on Defendant. He was charged with disorderly person and possession of cocaine less than 25 grams. Defendant was convicted at a bench trial.

On Appeal

Defendant argues on appeal that his arrest for disorderly person was improper because the hotel room he was in was not in a public place.

The crime of disorderly person – public intoxication, requires that a person be intoxicated and in a public place, in addition to endangering the safety of person or property of another. Michigan law is well-settled that a hotel room is not considered a public place. This notion comes from the case of People v. Lino and Fourth Amendment law, specifically the case of People v. Oliver.

Defendant argued that because the arrest was unlawful, the cocaine possession charge must be dismissed as well.

Public Place

The case turned on the definition of “public place.” Essentially, a public place is a place where the public has a right to visit. It doesn’t need to be a place that those in public visit often or would want to visit – it’s the right of the public to be in the place and the accessibility of a place that makes a place public. While people visit hotels and may visit specific rooms, people do not have a right to go into just any hotel room. A person who rents a hotel room has exclusive possession of that space while they are renting the room. A hotel room is simply not a public place, the Court ruled.

Lessons from the Case

To be convicted of disorderly person, a person must be in a public place. You cannot be a disorderly person in your own home or a private residence. You must be in a public location.

Charged with Disorderly Conduct?

Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com.

Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Lawyer in Ann Arbor.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI.

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This case is captioned People v. Favreau, 255 Mich. App. 32, 661 N.W.2d 584 (2203)