Florida is known as a party state, and Sarasota is no exception. With its idyllic beaches, buzzing nightlife, recreational boating culture, and countless events, it is a fun and vibrant place to live. However, this also means that underage drinking is common. The police in Sarasota take this very seriously and often arrest young people for the possession of alcohol.
If someone is under 21 years of age, they can be charged with underage possession of alcohol. This is a second-degree misdemeanor that results in hefty fines, probation, the possibility of jail time, and a permanent criminal record, which could limit your future job and housing prospects.
When a young person has their whole future ahead of them, it seems unfair that their future prospects should be limited due to the minor offense of underage possession of alcohol. We want to work with you to have your charges reduced or dismissed. The seasoned Sarasota criminal defense lawyers at our law firm have 75 years of combined experience dealing with Florida’s courtrooms, and we will work as a team to build the best possible criminal defense.
If you or a loved one is facing an underage possession of alcohol charge in Sarasota, FL., then contact The Law Place today. We offer a free consultation so that you can find out exactly what we can do for you before you make any commitment.
Call us now at (941) 444-4444 and speak to a Sarasota criminal defense attorney for a free consultation.
Definition of Underage Possession of Alcohol
Under Florida Statute 562.111, it is against the law for any individual under the age of 21 to have an alcoholic beverage in their possession. Possession can be ‘constructive’ or ‘actual’.
- Actual possession – The alcoholic beverage was in possession of the minor.
- Constructive possession – The possession is alleged. The prosecutor does not need to prove that the minor was holding the beverage, only that it was within their presence, and they had control of it.
Penalties for Underage Possession of Alcohol
In Sarasota, or anywhere in Florida, the possession of an alcoholic beverage by a minor is usually classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for this offense include:
- Up to 60 days in jail.
- Up to 6 months of probation.
- A $500 fine.
- A license suspension for 6 to 12 months.
- A permanent criminal record.
When a young person is charged for a second time, the incident becomes a first-degree misdemeanor, and the penalties are elevated. They include:
- Up to one year in jail.
- Up to one year of probation.
- A $1000 fine.
- The revocation of your driver’s license for 2 years.
- A permanent mark on your record.
How a Defense Attorney Can Help
A defense lawyer will fight to have your case dismissed or your penalties lessened. They will do everything possible to help you avoid jail time and a criminal record for alcohol possession. At The Law Place, the attorney-client relationship is the most important thing to us. We want you to be able to trust us and allow us to use our experience to develop the best possible defense. Depending on the details of your case, our defense strategy might include:
- Lack of knowledge about alcohol possession, this could be a good defense if you are facing a charge for constructive possession.
- The officer did not follow proper protocol because they detained you before they had proof that you were underage.
- Lack of proof.
- The inability of the prosecution to prove that you had control over the alcohol.
- Failure to read Miranda warnings, which would result in any incriminating testimonial being thrown out.
- Law enforcement was guilty of entrapment.
- Lack of a search warrant or other legal justification to enter or remain on the premises.
- The beverage you had in your possession was non-alcoholic.
- Destruction of evidence, has the beverage been preserved for evidence?
- You were holding a drink for a friend and did not know there was alcohol in it.
- Your lawyer may be able to help you to retain a hardship license through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), which will allow you to continue to drive to and from work or school.
- Your lawyer may be able to arrange for you to attend a diversion program to avoid any charges or criminal records.
FAQ – Sarasota Underage Possession of Alcohol Lawyer
What does a Sarasota underage possession of alcohol lawyer specialize in?
A Sarasota underage possession of alcohol lawyer specializes in defending individuals, especially minors, who are charged with the illegal possession of alcohol. They have extensive knowledge of local laws and Florida statutes related to underage drinking charges.
Why should I hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer for underage drinking charges?
An experienced criminal defense lawyer understands the intricacies of the court system, Florida statute, and related offenses. They can provide a robust defense against criminal charges, helping to reduce or even dismiss the accusations. Additionally, they are well-versed in handling cases involving field sobriety tests, breath tests, and other evidence that may be used against the accused.
Can an underage drinking charge lead to a criminal conviction?
Yes, underage drinking charges can lead to a criminal conviction. If convicted, it becomes a part of your permanent record, which can have long-term consequences, especially for college students seeking financial aid or job opportunities.
What is the blood alcohol concentration limit for minors?
Florida has a zero tolerance policy for minors. This means any detectable blood alcohol concentration in individuals under 21 can lead to criminal offense charges. It’s essential to consult with a Sarasota underage possession of alcohol lawyer to understand the specifics.
Are there any courses available if my child is accused of substance abuse?
Yes, some courts may order minors accused of substance abuse to undergo a substance abuse course. This can sometimes help in reducing the severity of penalties or as a condition for probation.
How do local laws impact underage drinking charges?
Local laws can vary in terms of severity and penalties for underage drinking charges. A knowledgeable Sarasota underage possession of alcohol lawyer will be familiar with both Florida statutes and local regulations to provide the best defense.
Can field sobriety tests be contested in court?
Absolutely. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can challenge the validity of field sobriety tests, especially if there was no reasonable suspicion or probable cause for conducting them in the first place.
What are the consequences of refusing a breath test?
Refusing a breath test can lead to severe penalties, including having driving privileges revoked or a license suspended. It’s crucial to understand your rights and the implications of such decisions.
Are college students at higher risk for alcohol charges?
College students often find themselves in social situations where alcohol is present. They are at a higher risk for alcohol charges, especially if they are unaware of the zero tolerance policy and Florida statutes. A conviction can impact their financial aid and future career prospects.
Can possession of a controlled substance lead to similar charges as alcohol possession?
Yes, possession of a controlled substance can lead to criminal charges similar to those of alcohol possession. Driving motor vehicles under the influence of any controlled substance can lead to severe penalties, including loss of driving privileges.
If this is a first offense, are the penalties less severe?
Penalties for a first offense might be less severe than subsequent offenses. However, the consequences can still include a criminal conviction, fines, substance abuse courses, and more. It’s essential to have a lawyer personally handle the case to ensure the best possible outcome.
Will my child’s motor vehicle be impounded if they are accused of underage drinking and driving?
Under certain circumstances, motor vehicles can be impounded if the driver is accused of underage drinking and driving. It’s crucial to consult with a Sarasota underage possession of alcohol lawyer to understand the specifics and potential consequences.
Can a Sarasota underage possession of alcohol lawyer help even if I’m not sure I have a strong case?
Absolutely. A Sarasota underage possession of alcohol lawyer will review all aspects of the case, from the initial stop to any tests conducted, ensuring that your rights were not violated. They will provide guidance and support throughout the court process, ensuring you are adequately defended against any accusations or crimes.
Contact The Law Place Today
If you are facing charges of underage possession of alcohol, then you should act fast to avoid the potential penalties. One mistake should not result in you having to face the possibility of jail time and a permanent criminal record, which will limit your future opportunities for the rest of your life.
You deserve to give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding these types of consequences. Seek help from a law firm with 75 years of combined experience in Florida’s courtrooms. We will develop an aggressive defense strategy based on the circumstances of your case.
Contact us on (941) 444-4444 and arrange a free consultation.