Martin v. State

17 So. 2d 427 (1944)

Quick Summary

Cephus Martin (defendant) was convicted of public drunkenness. He appealed the conviction, arguing that his arrest was unlawful and without a warrant, rendering his subsequent acts irrelevant to establishing a case of public drunkenness.

Facts of the Case

Martin was arrested at his home by police officers. After being placed in a police vehicle, he was charged with being drunk and using loud and profane language on a public highway. Martin was convicted under a state statute that penalized any person who, while intoxicated, appeared in a public place and manifested a drunken condition by boisterous or indecent conduct, or loud and profane discourse.

The police officers had forcibly taken Martin from his home onto the highway, where he allegedly committed the proscribed acts. Specifically, Martin used loud and profane language while in an intoxicated condition.

The statute in question stated: “Any person who, while intoxicated or drunk, appears in any public place where one or more persons are present, and manifests a drunken condition by boisterous or indecent conduct, or loud and profane discourse, shall, on conviction, be fined.”

Martin appealed his conviction, arguing that his appearance in the public place was not voluntary, but rather the result of being involuntarily and forcibly carried to the location by the arresting officers.

Procedural Posture and History

  1. Martin was convicted under a state statute for appearing intoxicated in a public place and manifesting a drunken condition.
  2. Martin appealed his conviction to the Alabama Court of Appeals, arguing that his presence on the public highway was involuntary.

I.R.A.C. Format


Whether an arrest without a warrant, followed by the accused’s actions, can be used to establish a case of public drunkenness.

Rule of Law

Under the pertinent state statute (Code 1940, Title 14, Section 120), a voluntary appearance in a public place is presupposed for a conviction of being intoxicated or drunk and manifesting a drunken condition through boisterous or indecent conduct or loud and profane discourse.

Reasoning and Analysis

The statute under which Cephus Martin was charged requires a voluntary appearance in a public place while intoxicated. The Court recognises the precedent-setting rule that an accusation of public intoxication cannot be proven when the accused was forcibly and involuntarily transported to the designated location by an arresting officer.

In this case, Cephus Martin’s arrest at his home and subsequent transportation to the highway by the officers, where he allegedly committed acts of public drunkenness, were considered involuntary actions. Therefore, according to the prevailing rule, his conviction for public drunkenness cannot stand.


The Alabama Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment and rendered a decision discharging Martin from the conviction. The court found that no legal conviction could be sustained under the evidence presented, given the involuntary nature of Martin’s appearance in the public place.

Key Takeaways

  1. Public drunkenness requires a voluntary appearance while intoxicated in a designated public place.
  2. An arrest without a warrant followed by involuntary actions committed by the accused cannot be used to establish a case of public drunkenness.
  3. Actions committed under compulsion or duress cannot be used against an accused to prove public drunkenness if they were brought to the designated place involuntarily.

Relevant FAQs of this case

What legal principles guide the admissibility of actions under duress in criminal cases?

In criminal cases, the admissibility of actions under duress is guided by the principle that involuntary actions, those performed under compulsion or threat of harm, are generally not considered criminal conduct. This principle ensures that individuals who are forced to commit illegal acts to protect themselves or others are not held criminally liable.

  • For example: If a person is threatened with physical harm unless they steal a valuable item, and they comply out of fear for their safety, the law typically recognizes their actions as involuntary and may not charge them with theft.

Under what circumstances is an arrest without a warrant considered lawful?

An arrest without a warrant is legal if a police officer has reasonable cause to think that a crime has been committed and that the person being arrested committed the offence. A reasonable belief based on facts and evidence that supports an arrest without a warrant is referred to as probable cause.

  • For example: If a police officer observes someone breaking into a home and has evidence to support this observation, they have probable cause to make an arrest without obtaining a warrant.


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