Minor in Possession of Alcohol

In California, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to have alcohol in his or her possession.

This law is established in California Business and Professions Code 25662. A teen who violates this law and who has any alcohol beverage in his or her possession will be considered a Minor in Possession (MIP) and can face misdemeanor criminal charges.

A MIP charge is a serious charge that can result in fines, community service and the suspension of a driver’s license. A conviction can also show up on a minor’s record and could potentially have far-reaching consequences that follow the teen into adulthood. Avoiding this is essential and if you or your child was charged with under-aged possession of alcohol, getting legal help from a Palm Desert defense attorney should be a top priority. Michael B. Goldstein, a Professional Law Corporation offers free consultations so give us a call today to learn how our attorneys can help you.

When Can You Be Charged as a Minor in Possession?

Under California law, you can be charged as a minor in possession of alcohol if you are under the age of 21 and you have an alcoholic beverage on your person or under your control. You can be charged only if the possession occurred on a street; a highway; in a public place or in a place open to the public.

The law does not address consumption of alcohol, which means you should not be charged simply for being drunk in public. However, you can be charged if the alcohol is under your constructive possession even if it was not under your actual possession. For example, if you had a beer can but you set it down on the ground next to you, you are still considered to be in possession of the beer.

When law enforcement can prove you have violated this law, you can be charged with a misdemeanor crime. This means you’ll have to go to court, face criminal penalties and have a criminal record.

Penalties for a Minor in Possession Charge

If you or your child is found guilty of underage possession of an alcohol beverage, the potential penalties include:

  • A misdemeanor conviction.
  • A fine of $250.00 for a first offense and $500 for a second offense.
  • A one-year suspension of a driver’s license under California Vehicle Code section 13202.5. Repeat offenders will face additional one year suspensions.

A minor may also be ordered to undergo drug and alcohol counseling and/or to perform community service in addition to or instead of the penalties associated with the charges.

Palm Desert Minor in Possession Attorney Can Help Raise Defenses

There are many possible defenses to a minor in possession charge that can allow help you to avoid conviction, penalties and a criminal record. For example, some possible defenses include:

  • No actual possession. You can argue that the alcohol was not yours.
  • The alcohol was for an adult. If a minor is delivering alcohol to or under the orders of a parent, guardian or boss, then he or she is not guilty of a minor in possession offenses as long as he had the alcohol only for that limited purpose.

Minors are also typically shielded from a minor in possession law if there is another teen that needs medical attention due to a drug or alcohol overdose and if they call 911. This law exists in order to ensure that teens don’t fear calling 911 if someone is in danger.

It is also important to remember that you are innocent of all criminal charges until proven guilty. As such, if law enforcement cannot prove that you were illegally in possession of alcohol while underage, you cannot be found guilty of the misdemeanor crime.

Our Palm Desert defense attorneys are here to help. Michael B. Goldstein, a Professional Law Corporation, can help you if you or your child has been accused of underage possession of alcohol. Give us a call today to schedule a free review of your case.

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