Florida is an extremely popular holiday destination, known for its crystal beaches and vibrant nightlife. In the United States, many teenagers come to Florida to celebrate spring break. However, they also often get caught for underage drinking. Underage drinking is taken very seriously in Port Charlotte, and police officers commonly make arrests for underage possession of alcohol.
In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21, which is the highest legal age in the world. Therefore, if you are under the age of 21 and are caught drinking alcohol, a police officer is within their rights to charge you for a criminal offense. Underage possession of alcohol is classed as a second-degree misdemeanor and can result in large fines, a permanent criminal record, probation, and in the worst cases, a jail sentence. These punishments can have life-changing ramifications that may follow you for the rest of your lives.
As a person under the age of 21, you still have your whole life ahead of you. We don’t want your future to be hindered because of a single mistake. At The Law Place, we understand how frightening and daunting facing criminal charges can be. Our law firm has a team of highly skilled criminal defense attorneys who have an abundance of experience in dealing with cases like yours. We will work as a team to protect your rights and build the best possible criminal defense to ensure you receive the best possible outcome.
At The Law Place, we pride ourselves on developing a positive attorney-client relationship built on trust, which is why we offer all our customers a free consultation. During this consultation, an experienced defense attorney will assess your case and offer some legal advice on the best ways to proceed. Our Port Charlotte phone lines are open around the clock, so we can be on hand to offer support and guidance when you need us most. What are you waiting for? Call us today at (941) 444-4444 and get started with your case.
How Is the Underage Possession of Alcohol Defined?
According to Florida Statute 562.111, it is against the law for any person under the age of 21 to have an alcoholic beverage in their possession. Possession can be ‘constructive’ or ‘actual,’ meaning that you do not have to be directly holding an alcoholic beverage to be found guilty, but could simply be at a party where alcoholic beverages are around and are assumed to have been drinking it. Actual possession and constructive possession can be defined as follows:
- Actual possession – This applies when a minor is in actual possession of alcohol.
- Constructive possession – This applies when the possession of alcohol is alleged. In other words, a minor may not have an alcoholic beverage in their hand, but alcohol is in their presence, and they have control of it.
Penalties for Underage Possession of Alcohol in Port Charlotte
In Port Charlotte, if anyone under the age of 21 years, including a minor or juvenile, is caught in possession of alcohol, then they would usually be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
Penalities for second-degree misdemeanors include:
- A fine of up to $500.
- Up to 6 months on probation.
- Up to 60 days in jail.
- A permanent criminal record.
If someone under the age of 21 is caught in possession of alcohol for a second or third time, then it is within the officer’s right to charge the offense as a first-degree misdemeanor. As a result, the penalties are elevated and may include:
- A fine of up to $1000.
- Up to a year in jail.
- Up to 12 months on probation.
- A permanent criminal record.
It is worthwhile noting that, as stated in Florida Statute 322.055, anyone that is under the age of 21 and caught in possession of alcohol will lose their driver’s license for 6-12 months. If this criminal offense is committed by the same person for a second or third time, then the license suspension will be increased to 2 years.
Defenses for a Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Port Charlotte
After being accused of or charged for a criminal offense, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney is highly skilled in developing a strong defense strategy that can be used against the prosecutor to reduce or eliminate the charges that you are facing. The defense strategies that are used will depend on the situation and facts surrounding the case. Possible defense strategies may include:
- The person had a lack of knowledge of alcohol possession.
- The person had a lack of awareness that the beverage being consumed contained alcohol.
- There is a lack of proof from the prosecution that the beverage being consumed was, in fact, alcoholic. Therefore, the lawyer could argue that the beverage consumed could have been non-alcoholic.
- The police officer failed to preserve the evidence of the alcoholic beverage, and it was destroyed.
- The police officer lacked evidence to accuse the person of underage drinking.
- The police officer did not follow proper protocols and detained you before they had proof that you were underage.
- There was a lack of a search warrant or other legal justification to enter and investigate the premises that the person was caught underage drinking.
- The police officer failed to read Miranda warnings, which would result in any incriminating evidence being void.
- Law enforcement was guilty of entrapment.
If you have been accused of being a minor in possession of alcohol, then the sooner you contact a knowledgeable law firm, the better. A skilled lawyer will be able to investigate and analyze any evidence and work to build a strong defense case.
Contact The Law Place in Port Charlotte Today
At The Law Place, we understand how stressful and frightening facing criminal charges can be. Our lawyers are committed to developing a positive attorney-client relationship that is built on trust. We are here to support you every step of the way and to guide you through the legal process.
Our team of skilled attorneys has over 75 years of combined experience in dealing with cases like yours, so you are guaranteed to be in knowledgeable and capable hands. At The Law Place, we offer all our customers a free consultation where we will assess the legitimacy of your case and offer a free case evaluation on the best ways to proceed.
At our Port Charlotte offices, our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, guaranteeing that one of our knowledgeable lawyers will be here to offer you support and advice at any time of day. Contact us on (941) 444-4444 and get started with your case today.