If your child has alcoholic beverages in his or her possession and is caught by law enforcement, this could result in criminal charges. Although underage drinking could be considered commonplace and a relatively minor violation, it can still lead to a criminal conviction. As such, the consequences of such a conviction on a young person and their future should not be underestimated.
If you or your child has been charged with underage possession of alcohol or any related offenses, you will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight your corner. The consequences, if convicted, can be severe and have long-lasting effects on a young person. Often, a minor’s criminal record will be expunged at age 24, but this can come too late for many of the crucial steps a young person takes to build their future in their teens and early 20s.
The Law Place attorneys are passionate and aggressive defenders, and we will fight to protect our young clients from a potential life-changing conviction. Take control of your situation and give yourself the best chance of a successful outcome in your case.
Contact The Law Place at (941)-444-4444 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.
What Is Considered Underage Possession of Alcohol in Siesta Key?
A minor could face underage possession of alcohol charges if they are caught by law enforcement drinking an alcoholic beverage, holding an alcoholic beverage, or if they have alcohol in their bag, or car, for example.
Under Florida Statute 562.111, anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 could face charges for possessing, purchasing, or drinking alcoholic beverages. A young person could be charged if they are found in actual possession or constructive possession of alcohol. Actual possession refers to situations such as when a minor is found holding a drink that contains alcohol or has alcoholic drinks in their backpack.
An individual could also face criminal charges if they are in constructive possession of alcohol. Constructive possession refers to situations where alcohol is in a place that the minor has knowledge of, access to, or control over. A child could be charged with constructive possession of alcohol if they are sitting at a table with open glasses of alcohol scattered around that they have access to. Another example of constructive possession would be if a child is in a vehicle where they are able to access alcoholic beverages.
If a young person is deemed intoxicated by a police officer, this could also result in a possession of alcohol charge. An officer may use breath test results or field sobriety tests as evidence to support the charge.
For a free legal consultation with a underage possession of alcohol lawyer serving Siesta Key, call 941-444-4444
Underage Alcohol Possession Criminal Charges
When a minor is arrested for underage possession of alcohol for the first time in Siesta Key, likely, they will face second-degree misdemeanor charges. However, if this is not their first underage alcohol possession offense, they could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.
Underage drinking-related offenses, such as driving under the influence or possession of a fake ID, can result in additional charges and even the potential of a felony conviction.
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Repercussions of Underage Drinking Charges on Young People
Although underage drinking and possession of alcohol may seem somewhat minor in comparison to other criminal offenses, the law does not see these charges the same way. Penalties outlined in Florida Statutes can be severe, even for a first-time offense, as the state tries to discourage underage drinking and its potential risks to society.
Unfortunately, jail time must be considered as a potential outcome of any underage possession of alcohol conviction. With skilled legal representation, a young person may be able to avoid jail time and receive a probational sentence instead, but the possibility of time behind bars, if convicted, should not be excluded.
A first offense second-degree misdemeanor conviction carries the potential for up to 60 days in jail. This sentence will increase for a second or subsequent offense. If convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor, a minor could face up to one year in jail for underage alcohol possession.
A fine is likely to constitute part of the penalties enforced on a minor if they are convicted of underage possession. These fines can be substantial, especially given the typically limited income of a young person. Often, these fines can place pressure on a minor’s parents to financially assist them with the cost.
For a first-time conviction, a young person can be fined up to $500. The potential fine doubles for a second or subsequent offense, up to a maximum of $1,000 per offense.
Permanent Criminal Record
Usually, the more immediate concerns of an individual facing underage drinking charges are the potential for jail time and hefty fines they might receive. Often, the realization that a minor could be left with a permanent criminal record if convicted does not sink in immediately. However, a permanent criminal record is arguably one of the most long-lasting and impactful consequences of a conviction, particularly for young people.
Although a juvenile criminal record may be expunged in the future, often this will not occur until the young person turns 24 years old, or in some cases, even later in life. If convicted, a young person’s future outlook and prospects can be hindered for many years until their record is expunged.
Driver’s License Suspension
Any underage possession of alcohol charge is likely to result in additional penalties from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. If convicted, a young person can expect to receive a mandatory driver’s license suspension for a minimum of six months to one year for a first offense. This suspension can double for a recurrent offense, whereby a driver’s license can be suspended for up to two years.
Less Access to Opportunities
Once a young person has a conviction on their criminal record, this can have a knock-on implication on their future prospects and access to opportunities. At such a critical point in their life and future path, a criminal record can exclude a young person from applying to certain colleges, financial aid, and job roles.
Specific industry sectors, such as working with vulnerable people, including teaching, child care, care work, and medical professions, may not be available to individuals with a criminal record. Similarly, working in industries requiring a professional license may be challenging. Some positions working with sensitive information, such as in federal agencies, may also be inaccessible to those with a criminal background.
If a criminal record does not immediately disqualify you from your chosen future path, it could hinder you by making you seem less appealing or less competitive to future employers and educational institutions. In today’s society, where competition between peers can be so high, an underage possession of alcohol conviction on your criminal record can be the difference between securing your desired opportunity and missing out to someone with a clean background check.
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Underage Boating Under the Influence in Siesta Key
Due to Siesta Key’s idyllic location near the ocean, beautiful weather, and extensive waterways, the recreational boating culture is widespread amongst both adults and young people in the area. Underage boating while under the influence of alcohol is a very real risk in Siesta Key and can result in substantial criminal charges and penalties.
The State of Florida takes a zero-tolerance approach to minors driving under the influence of alcohol. The same approach applies to young people driving boats after consuming alcohol. This zero-tolerance policy does not allow any trace of alcohol to be detectable on a minor’s blood or breath test if they have been operating a motor vehicle or boat.
If anyone under the age of 18 is found driving a motor vehicle, or boat, with a blood alcohol level of above 0.02%, they will receive a minimum driver’s license suspension of 6 months, regardless of whether they are in actual possession of alcohol at the time of the arrest.
If a young person’s breath test shows a blood alcohol level of 0.05% or above, their driver’s license will be suspended indefinitely. An individual can have their driving privileges reinstated once they have completed a substance abuse course. Depending on their age and physical stature, a young person could have a blood alcohol level above these thresholds after consuming just one alcoholic beverage.
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Can You Avoid an Underage Possession of Alcohol Conviction?
Ultimately, if you have been charged, it is possible to avoid a conviction for underage alcohol possession and the subsequent penalties a conviction can bring. However, most of the time, it is not easy to beat a charge.
With the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, you may be able to have your charge dropped, or your case dismissed, depending on the quality of the case against you and the level of supporting evidence. If this is not possible, a reputable attorney may be able to negotiate a deferred sentence which could avoid a conviction on your permanent record if successfully completed. Likely this will also allow you to avoid the more severe penalties, such as jail time.
To ensure you have the best chance of beating the possible conviction you are facing, secure representation from a reputable criminal defense lawyer with experience in cases similar to yours.
Speak to a Siesta Key Underage Possession of Alcohol Defense Attorney As Soon As Possible!
Possessing alcohol under the age of 21 is a criminal offense. If convicted, a minor is at risk of fines, jail time, losing their driver’s license, and a permanent record. What could seem like a harmless mistake can end up following a young person around for a long time.
The Law Place is a well-recognized law firm in Florida with many years of experience defending young people against an array of criminal charges, including alcohol possession, driving under the influence, and possession of a fake ID.
Our attorneys put 100% into every case they work on, but they especially understand the implications of a criminal conviction on our younger clients at such a pivotal point in their lives. This is additional motivation for our skilled criminal defense attorneys to leave no stone unturned when developing the best possible defense strategy to avoid a conviction or secure lesser penalties.
To ensure your defense is well structured, compelling, and gives you the best chance of a favorable result, speak to The Law Place today.
Contact our Spanish and English-speaking team at (941)-444-4444 to book a free consultation with a Siesta Key underage possession of alcohol lawyer.
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