Underage Possession Lawyer
Every teenager makes mistakes. That is part of growing up. But some mistakes are more costly than others and can involve unwarranted legal problems. Mistakes involving a misdemeanor ( like Underage Possession of Alcohol ) can have costly long term consequences, well after the legal matter has been concluded.
Employers check criminal records before hiring. Young adults with Underage Possession convictions are less likely to be hired. Considering the lost income this causes, an Underage Possession charge is more expensive than just the fines. Additionally, many programs and schools deny admission to an applicant with a criminal record. Young adults having less education have less earning potential for years to come.
Hiring an Experienced Lawyer to minimize the effects of your child’s Underage Possession charge pays for itself many times over. The investment you make in an experienced attorney is an investment in your child’s future. A skillful lawyer may avoid a conviction all together, or may enter a plea agreement with a deferred sentence. You may be frustrated or angry with your child for making this mistake. But you also want to help your child minimize the long term negative consequences, so that one mistake doesn’t jeopardize their entire future. We care about your child. Call to see what we can do to help your child secure the best possible future, in spite of this one mistake.
The Reality of an Underage Possession Charge
If you’ve been charged with Underage Possession of Alcohol for the very first time, this doesn’t make you a criminal or a bad person. I see clients on a daily basis who have have never been been in trouble, but find themselves being arrested or investigated for a crime. It’s quite common that a young person will get themselves in a bad situation, which results in being charged with Underage Possession of Alcohol. Being charged with this offense is not the end of the world; there are plenty of options to keep a clean criminal record.
Please, let me help you get your child back on the right track.
What Could the Penalties for Underage Possession Be?
In Virginia, anyone under age 21 accused of purchasing or possessing an alcoholic beverage faces driver’s license suspension of up to six months, a fine, probation and up to 50 hours of community service. A charge of “minor in possession” can also be filed simply because alcohol was detected in the young person’s system.
Don’t wait. Call us today for a free telephone consultation.
Virginia Code Section 4.1-305 Underage Possession of Alcohol
No person to whom an alcoholic beverage may not lawfully be sold shall consume, purchase or possess, or attempt to consume, purchase or possess, any alcoholic beverage.
In Virginia, it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to possess, consume, or purchase alcohol pursuant to Virginia Code Section 4.1-305. A person believed to have violated the section may be prosecuted either in the county or city in which the alcohol was possessed or consumed, or in the county or city in which the person exhibits evidence of physical signs of consumption of alcohol. It is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If you are found guilty and convicted of underage possession of alcohol, there is a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service as a condition of probation supervision. If you are age 18 or older, your license will be suspended for at least six months but not more than a year. During the period of license suspension, the court may require you to be monitored by an alcohol safety action program, or supervised by a local community-based probation services agency. There is a provision for a restricted license to be able to drive to work, school, and other restricted and limited places.
How an Underage Possession Charge Can Affect Your Life?
Research indicates that underage drinking accounts for 11% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. Even though it is a very common offense, an underage drinking conviction can still have serious consequences and significantly impact your life. If you’re a high school or college student, a conviction could result in loss of potential scholarships, denied admission, dismissal from an athletic organization, or even expulsion. Obviously the potential penalties will vary from one school to the next, and we encourage you to examine your school’s code of conduct in order to fully understand what you may be facing.
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor Attorney
Adults who persuade or help minors commit acts of juvenile delinquency may be charged with the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor (or “CDM”). A minor is anyone under the age of majority, 18 in most states. Since possession of alcohol is an act of juvenile delinquency, for example, providing alcohol to minors would be an act of CDM in most cases. Colorado was the first to establish the crime in 1903 and all states now have such laws, even though most have carved out some exceptions.
An act of juvenile delinquency is basically a crime committed by a minor and handled outside of the criminal justice system.
Elements of the Crime
Every state makes it a crime for adults to aid a minor’s act of delinquency. They differ but are generally similar in scope. For instance, most states will charge you with a misdemeanor if you offer to buy a case of beer for a teen or host a keg party attended by your teenage son and his friends. Some states, however, treat the crime as a felony in certain instances.
The elements of CDM generally include:
An adult (or another minor, in some states) committed an act or failed to perform a duty (sometimes regardless of intent).
This act or omission caused (or has the tendency to cause) a minor to become or remain:
A dependent of the juvenile court; or
A delinquent; or
A habitual truant
Most laws use language such as “tending to cause delinquency.” This means the minor does not actually have to commit an act of delinquency for the adult to be charged for the crime. For example, your 14-year-old neighbor does not have to actually possess the case of beer you bought for him in order for you to be charged for CDM.
Providing Alcohol to Someone Underage
While those caught providing alcohol to a minor may be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, they also may face a separate charge for providing alcohol to someone under the age of 21 (also referred to as a “minor,” but in the context of alcohol possession). It depends on the state and the case, but prosecutors often persuade the defendant to plead guilty to the lesser charge in exchange for dropping the more severe one. Still, prosecutors may be free to proceed with both charges. If you or someone you love has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, please do not hesitate. Call the law firm of Robert L. Lichtenstein today.
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Robert L. Lichtenstein, Esquire
222 N. Main Street, Suite 300
Post Office Box 1447
Hopewell, Virginia 23860
(804) 452-2899 (fax)
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