Are you under the age of 21 and have received a criminal notice to appear for underage possession of alcohol? Maybe you came to Florida for spring break with the intention of having a good time, but then you got caught for underage drinking. According to Florida Statute 562.111, underage possession of alcohol is a second-degree misdemeanor, and it is punishable by a fine and up to 60 days in jail.
At the time, most likely, you were given paperwork from the officer who caught you – either a police officer, a Sheriff’s Deputy, or someone from the Florida Alcohol and Tobacco Office. The paperwork allows you to pay the fine, usually between the amounts of $200-$300. Once you have made that payment, it will result in you having a criminal record.
In all 50 states of America, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or possess alcohol. If you received a criminal notice to appear for underage possession of alcohol, then we advise that you contact our law firm now. At The Law Place, we can offer you some honest words on how to best manage your situation. We will discuss the details and facts of your case, possible legal defense moves, and your available options. Our team of professional trial lawyers will do what they can in hopes of getting the charges dropped for you. Don’t hesitate, reach out and contact our law firm now on (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation in Fort Myers, FL.
Facts About Alcohol in Fort Myers, FL.
As you may already know, it is illegal in all states for anyone below the age of 21 to be in possession of alcohol. However, there are other facts that you need to know about the alcohol laws in Fort Myers and across Florida, such as:
- The legal age to consume alcohol is 21 years of age in Florida.
- Parents are not allowed under any circumstances to legally serve their children alcohol, not even in their own homes, at a hotel, or at a restaurant.
- Employees working at an establishment, such as a restaurant, who are under the age of 18, cannot sell or even serve alcohol.
- Employees working at an establishment, such as a restaurant, who are 18 years old or over, are allowed to sell and serve alcohol in accordance with the law.
- In Fort Myers and across Florida, it is illegal to make and use a fake ID to purchase alcohol. If someone at a bar, nightclub, restaurant, or hotel notices a fake ID, then they are to refuse selling alcohol. Furthermore, they must contact law enforcement.
- It is illegal for anyone to sell and serve alcohol to a minor. This is a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine and up to 60 days in jail.
If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges for underage possession of alcohol, or if you are the one facing charges for giving alcohol to an underage child or one of their friends, then we encourage you to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer to handle the case. Contact The Law Place now for a free consultation in Fort Myers, FL.
Penalties for Underage Possession of Alcohol in Fort Myers, FL.
If a minor, juvenile, or any other person who is under the age of 21 were caught in possession of an alcoholic beverage, then this is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor – as stated in Florida Statute 562.111.
In the state of Florida, underage possession of alcohol is a serious offense, and the penalties include spending up to 60 days in jail or six months of probation and a fine of up to $500.
However, in the event that someone under the age of 21 commits a second or subsequent offense of being in possession of alcohol, then the incident can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. Penalties include spending a maximum of 1 year in jail or twelve months of probation, and they will also receive a $1,000 fine.
According to Florida Statute 322.055, someone under the age of 21 who is convicted of being in possession of alcohol will lose their driver’s license for a time period of 6 to 12 months in Florida. However, if a second or subsequent offense is committed, then the time period increases to up to 2 years of being without a driver’s license.
In Fort Myers, FL., the court may order the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) department to issue a hardship license if the convicted person is qualified for the specified license in question.
Usage of Fake IDs to Possess Alcohol in Fort Myers, FL.
According to Florida Statute 322.212, it is illegal for anyone to use a borrowed, forged, or stolen Florida ID card or driver’s license in an attempt to purchase or even possess alcohol. It is a serious offense, and breaking the law will result in being charged with a third-degree felony in Fort Myers, FL. In the event that someone provides a fake ID to someone else under the age of 21, then you will be up against the court.
The penalties will include:
- An order to pay a fine of up to $5,000.
- A sentence of up to 5 years in prison.
It is against the law to provide someone else’s identification, or even forge and use a fake ID, in the pursuit of purchasing and possessing alcohol. If you were caught committing this crime, then you will be facing severe consequences.
What Are Your Options in Fort Myers, FL?
If you were caught underage drinking in Fort Myers, FL., then you might be fearing the consequences of your actions. You might also be wondering what options you have in this situation; this is where hiring a skilled lawyer from The Law Place will be useful for your case.
It is helpful if you try to get into a program called pre-trial intervention or pre-trial diversion, which means that you might get a better result on your criminal case. Furthermore, a better result could ultimately mean that your case gets dropped altogether. It is important to add that the only possible way for your case to be dropped is if the state attorney’s office dropped the charge, following your successful completion of the program. They could also drop the charges if they did not file the charges from the beginning.
In any case, it is essential that you hire a knowledgeable and skilled underage possession of alcohol lawyer. In Fort Myers, FL., our law firm has managed hundreds of cases for underage possession of alcohol. We know how to deal with the law and make sure that you receive the best possible outcome for your case. Contact The Law Place now for a free consultation.
Pre-Trial Diversion Program
If you were given a criminal notice for underage possession of alcohol, then you could start a pre-trial diversion program in Fort Myers, FL.
In order to start a pre-trial diversion program, it first needs to be recommended by the state attorney’s office. However, it worth adding that this is usually administered through a third-party called the probation department and not directly by the state attorney’s office.
The probation department is a division of the court system; any pre-trial program will include you having to pay a fine, getting involved in some community service, and possibly attending an alcohol prevention class.
Pre-Trial Intervention Program
If you are underage and discovered to be in possession of alcohol, then you could participate in a pre-trial intervention program in Fort Myers, FL.
If you successfully complete the pre-trial intervention program, then your criminal charge will be dropped. In other words, it would make you eligible to expunge your criminal record altogether. However, in order to do this, you have to secure a certain result on the underlying criminal case.
If you were to just pay the fine and receive a withhold of adjudication, then your criminal case remains a part of the public record until you start the sealing process through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The best result of your case, if you were to successfully complete a pre-trial intervention program, is that you would be eligible to expunge your criminal record completely. The process of expungement requires every agency that has come into contact with your file, including the state attorney’s office, the probation department, the agency that conducted the investigation, and the clerk to destroy their records of your case.
Defenses to Underage Drinking in Fort Myers, FL.
In Fort Myers, FL., a skilled lawyer from The Law Place can build up a strong case to contest a charge of underage possession of alcohol. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the defenses that a lawyer can use are most likely to be legal or factual. Defenses of underage drinking include:
- A lack of awareness of the alcoholic nature of the beverage.
- The prosecutor cannot prove that the beverage contained alcohol.
- It could have possibly been a non-alcoholic beverage.
- A lack of knowledge of the beverage being within the accused person’s presence.
- A lack of proof of knowledge.
- The evidence was destroyed, a failure to preserve the beverage by the police officer.
- Failure to read Miranda warnings by the police officer, which results in the suppression of incriminating statements.
- Entrapment: in other words, improper inducement by someone else for the accused person to possess or consume the alcoholic beverage.
- The accused person was holding a drink for a friend without realizing the alcoholic nature of the beverage.
- A lack of evidence from the police officer who accused the person of underage drinking, without probable cause to believe that the accused person was, in fact, underage.
- A lack of a search warrant or other legal justification to enter and investigate the premises in which the accused person was found in possession of alcohol.
A knowledgeable lawyer will be aware that in most underage possession of alcohol cases, there is usually a genuine question as to whether the accused person was aware that the beverage they were holding actually contained alcohol or not. This type of situation tends to happen in a club or party setting, where the accused person is asked to hold a drink for someone else. In defense, the accused person can state that they were unaware of the alcoholic nature of the beverage. Reach out and contact The Law Place now for a free consultation, in which one of our experienced trial lawyers will guide you and help you to figure out what to say in front of the court in Fort Myers, FL.
Contact The Law Place Now
If you came to Florida and were caught in possession of alcohol, you would have received a criminal notice for being under the age of 21 by a police officer, a Sheriff’s deputy, or even someone from the Florida Alcohol and Tobacco Office.
At The Law Place, we have over 75 years of combined experience in dealing with cases from car accidents, to personal injury claims, to DUI’s, to underage possession of alcohol. In the end, our law firm always comes out on top.
It is worth noting that you should not expect the judge or prosecuting lawyer to be lenient with you simply because you are young, and this is your first offense. There might be areas for mitigation, but it is in your best interest if you consult a reputable lawyer from The Law Place for advice on the best course of action for you to take.
Our team of skilled lawyers is aware that you might be experiencing guilt or even fear about what happens next, following your criminal notice of underage possession of alcohol. But no need to worry, as you can reach out and contact our law firm for a free consultation.
If you choose to be represented by us, then a lawyer from our firm will discuss the facts of your case, build a strong defense, and explain the process to you. Sometimes the laws in Florida are difficult to understand and navigate on your own, but a skilled lawyer will be able to clarify these things and assist your case in a way that benefits you.
A lawyer from The Law Place will work hard and help you fight the charges to avoid a criminal record and criminal penalties by the court. If the charges are dropped against you or the judge withholds adjudication, then this means that you are eligible to expunge the charge from your criminal history record forever.
Get in touch with The Law Place now at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation, and we will be at your side every step of the way.