The law seeks to protect minors under the age of 21, by prohibiting the use of or even the possession of alcohol. More specifically, it is against the law for a minor to be in possession of alcohol in a public place. The charge is not a DUI offense but carries penalties that can significantly affect the minor’s driving privileges. If you or a friend is charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol, it is important to hire a San Diego college crimes lawyer.
What Does The Law Say?
To prove the offense of being a minor in possession of alcohol, the prosecution must present evidence relating to the following elements:
- At the time you were found in possession of the alcohol, you were in fact under the age of 21;
- You were in possession of a beverage that had alcohol content; and
- You were in a public place.
The absence of any of these elements will result in no offense being committed, but may in some cases lead to other charges. While the law seeks to punish minors, the law allows for penalties for the business owner and parents and their involvement in a minor being in possession of alcohol.
What Are The Penalties?
Drinking alcohol can seem like a fun and exciting thing to participate it, and while being caught in possession of alcohol as a minor does not carry jail time, there are consequences that can significantly affect your day to day life:
- You could face a fine of $250 on your first conviction. This will increase to $500 on a second or subsequent charge. As a student, or just starting to work, this type of fine can affect your limited cash flow.
- A judge could also sentence you to serve time doing community service. This can range from 24 hours to 36 hours on your first violation and upwards of 48 hours for subsequent violations.
- You may also be directed to enroll in a drunk driver program for youths.
- Although not a DUI, if you are found guilty of being in possession of alcohol and you are under the age of 21, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. In the case where you are not yet eligible for a license, the one-year suspension will be in relation to your eligibility in obtaining a driving license.
Being a minor in possession of alcohol is a misdemeanor and a violation will be a part of your criminal record. This can significantly affect your college application and future jobs when you graduate. Accordingly, it is important to have a San Diego college crimes lawyer who will be able to fight the charges. Additionally, if you were found guilty or had to plead guilty to the offense, an attorney can help with getting your record sealed.
In addition to the judicial punishments associated with this offense, you will have to consider administrative penalties from your school. If you are charged you should discuss such consequence with your lawyer as they may vary from one school to the other.
How Can I Beat the Charges?
If you’re facing these charges, you will obviously be concerned about the effect on your criminal record and the possibility of a license suspension. This is a critical time in your life, as it represents the foundation for your future success. If you are charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol, in addition to pursuing getting your charges reduced or dismissed, your San Diego alcohol defense attorney can put forward the following defenses on your behalf:
- You were not in possession of alcohol;
- The possession was for a limited and valid purpose; or
- Evidence of an illegal search or seizure
While you will be considered innocent until proven guilty, having a prepared and well-researched defense can help secure your innocence. Finding the right lawyer can be difficult. If you are under the age of 18, you will have to trust this decision to your parents. An essential consideration with hiring legal representation should be to find a lawyer with a wealth of experience in this particular area of criminal law.
A San Diego College Crimes Attorney Can Help
At McElfresh Law, we are not just lawyers, we have dedicated our legal practice to providing high-quality and passionate legal representation. Our years of experience being courtroom advocates for those charged with alcohol-related offenses is a testament to our ability to deal with your case. We understand how critical it is to get back to your life, wanting to avoid any judicial penalties, and we are committed to working with you to prove your innocence.
We all make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes lead to charges. It is not the end of the road. Call McElfresh Law today at (858) 756-7107 if you or your child was charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol.