Florida is a notorious party-state, especially Tampa, with its famous crystal beaches, exciting nightlife, boating culture, and countless music and arts events. It is a fun and vibrant place to live, especially for young people. However, all that excitement comes at a price; underage drinking is rife. The police take underage drinking in Tampa very seriously and commonly make arrests of minors for underage possession of alcohol.
In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21, and the punishment for underage possession of alcohol can be severe. This includes a permanent criminal record with a second-degree misdemeanor charge, hefty fines, probation, and even a jail sentence. This could seriously hinder your life as this record is public, and you will be limited in what jobs you can apply for and even what housing you can move into.
You have your whole life ahead of you, and you do not want your potential to be limited by a single mistake. You should act now to protect yourself and your future. At The Law Place, we will protect your rights and fight for you to receive the best possible outcome, which may include a dismal or a lesser charge.
If you or someone you love is facing an underage possession of alcohol charge in Tampa, then contact The Law Place today for a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney. We will guide you through the complexity of Florida’s legal system and do everything in our power to protect your future.
We are open 24/7, so call us now at (941) 444-4444 and seek free legal advice with a reputable law firm.
What happens if you get caught drinking under 21 in Florida?
In Florida, if someone under 21 is caught drinking, they may face charges for underage drinking, which is a violation of Florida’s laws prohibiting alcohol possession and consumption by minors.
The consequences typically include fines, community service, potential driver’s license suspension, and mandatory attendance in an alcohol education or intervention program. The severity of the penalties can depend on the circumstances and whether it’s a repeat offense.
The statute for minor possession of alcohol in Florida is outlined in Florida Statutes Section 562.111. This law states that it is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 to possess alcohol. Violating this statute can result in being charged with a second-degree misdemeanor for the first offense and potential first-degree misdemeanor for subsequent offenses.
Definition of Underage Possession of Alcohol
In accordance with Florida Statute 562.111, it is unlawful for any person who is under the age of 21 to have an alcoholic beverage in their possession. Alcoholic beverages include beer, cider, wine, spirits, mixed drinks, or anything else that contains alcohol.
Possession does not have to be literal. It can either be ‘constructive’ or ‘actual.’ This means that you do not have to be directly found with an alcoholic beverage in your hand to be found guilty in Tampa, and you should still seek legal advice from a law firm if you are being accused of possession of alcohol.
- Actual possession – Applies when the minor was in actual possession of alcohol.
- Constructive possession – Applies when the possession of alcohol is alleged. The minor did not have an alcoholic beverage in their hand or on their person, but it was in their presence, and they had control of it. This could apply at a party where the individual was not directly caught with alcohol but was around alcoholic beverages and can be assumed to have been consuming it.
Penalties for Underage Possession of Alcohol in Tampa, FL.
In Tampa, or anywhere in Florida, the possession of alcohol by someone who is underage is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor.
The penalties of a first offense for the possession of alcohol as a minor in Tampa include:
- A maximum of 60 days in jail.
- A maximum of 6 months of probation.
- A $500 fine.
- A driver’s license suspension for 6 to 12 months.
- A permanent criminal record.
When a minor faces a second change for possession of alcohol in Florida, the punishments become more severe than those given for a first offense, including:
- A maximum of one year in jail.
- A maximum of one year of probation.
- A $1000 fine.
- The revocation of your driver’s license. This means that your driver’s license is canceled, and you cannot work to obtain a new one for two years.
- After which, you will have to request approval from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), pay penalties, and go through Florida’s licensing process.
- A permanent mark on your record.
How a Defense Attorney Can Help in Tampa, FL.
When facing a second-degree misdemeanor, you must speak to a criminal defense attorney, who can use their knowledge of Florida law to have your charges dropped, or your penalties lessened. An experienced attorney will be able to build the best possible criminal defense in the hopes that you will avoid a criminal record, jail time, and you will keep your driver’s license.
At The Law Place, we have a combined experience of over 75 years in Florida criminal defense. We will review your case as a team to battle your charges with the best possible defense. It will be aggressive yet tailored to its audience. We are passionate about protecting young people from damaging marks on their records for the small crime of possession of alcohol in Tampa.
We will consider the circumstances of your case and tailor a defense strategy. However, some common defenses your lawyer will consider for alcohol possession are:
- You were not aware that you had alcohol on your person, i.e., you were given the beverage by a friend or held it for someone and were unaware that it contained alcohol.
- A lack of proof on the side of the prosecution: you are innocent until proven guilty.
- The arresting officer did not follow proper protocol. For example, if they detained you before they knew that you were underage, your case could be dismissed entirely.
- Destruction of evidence, has the beverage supposedly containing alcohol been preserved for evidence?
- The lack of proof that you had any control over the alcoholic beverage could be a good defense if you are facing a charge for constructive possession.
- The beverage you had in your possession did not contain alcohol.
- Law enforcement failed to read you your Miranda warnings, which would result in any incriminating testimonial being thrown out.
- Law enforcement was guilty of entrapment, and therefore, your case should be dismissed.
- Lack of a search warrant or other legal justification to enter or remain on the property in which you were caught with alcohol, and therefore, your case must be dismissed.
- If your case is not dismissed and your license is suspended, then your lawyer may be able to help you apply for a hardship license through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), which would enable you to continue to drive to and from work or school while your license is suspended or revoked.
- Your lawyer may be able to make an arrangement with the judge so that you can attend a diversion program and avoid any charges or criminal records.
Questions to Ask a Lawyer Before Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
When you agree to representation in Tampa, Florida, you want to be confident that you are giving yourself the best possible chance of avoiding being charged. The more you know about who you are hiring, the better. Trust is essential. A reputable law firm should offer a free consultation, and they should not avoid any of your questions.
Consider asking the following:
- Have you helped people in a similar situation to avoid being charged?
- What is the cost, and how will I pay?
- Can I see references and testimonials from previous clients? This is particularly important. If they can’t provide real reviews from past clients, this should be a big red flag.
What Makes The Law Place Different From Other Florida Law Firms?
An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide crucial legal representation for someone facing an underage possession of alcohol charge. They can challenge the evidence, negotiate with prosecutors, and strive to minimize the impact of the charge on the young person’s future.
At The Law Place, we understand how stressful Florida’s court systems can be, especially for young people facing the possibility of their whole life being altered. We will be by your side every step of the way. We are here to listen, investigate, and put together the best possible defense tailored to the audience that will hear it.
A criminal defense attorney from our law firm will also fight to mitigate the collateral consequences of an underage alcohol possession charge, such as impacts on educational opportunities, employment, and driving privileges. They can work towards a resolution that minimizes these long-term effects.
We always make sure that we are up to date with Florida law, and we are always developing our skills. We have a deep understanding of the law and will understand how we can tackle your defense. Many of our attorneys are AVVO 10.0 rated, the highest possible rating based on associations, client reviews, length of practice, trial skills, and awards.
Tampa Underage Possession of Alcohol Lawyer, FAQ
Can 18 year olds drink with parents in Florida?
In Florida, the law does not allow individuals under the age of 21 to legally consume alcohol, even with parental consent in private settings. The state maintains strict age limits for alcohol consumption, and there are no exceptions for consumption under parental supervision or in private homes.
What are the consequences of an underage possession of alcohol in Tampa?
In Tampa, underage possession of alcohol is typically classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. This classification means it’s a serious criminal offense that can result in significant criminal penalties.
The criminal penalties for underage possession of alcohol in Tampa can include fines, community service, probation, and potentially even jail time, especially if it’s a subsequent offense.
What should I look for in a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney for an underage alcohol possession case?
When seeking a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney for an underage alcohol possession case, look for someone with experience in handling similar cases, a deep understanding of Florida laws, and a track record of successfully defending young clients.
How does the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office typically handle underage alcohol possession cases?
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office enforces underage alcohol possession laws stringently. A law enforcement officer may issue a citation or arrest the individual, depending on the circumstances of the case and the officer’s discretion.
What should a young person do if charged with underage possession of alcohol in Tampa?
If a young person is charged with underage possession of alcohol in Tampa, they should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. It’s important not to make any statements to law enforcement officers before obtaining legal advice.
What strategies do criminal defense attorneys use to defend against underage possession of alcohol charges?
Criminal defense attorneys may use several strategies to defend against underage possession of alcohol charges, including questioning the circumstances of the arrest, the legality of any search and seizure, and the accuracy of the evidence presented.
Can a subsequent offense for underage possession of alcohol lead to harsher penalties?
Yes, a subsequent offense for underage possession of alcohol can lead to harsher penalties. Each additional criminal charge can result in increased fines, longer probation periods, and a greater likelihood of jail time.
Contact The Law Place Today
If you are being accused of underage possession of alcohol, then you should act quickly and protect yourself from the worse possible consequences. We believe that your future should be protected, and we will do everything possible to avoid charges or lessen your penalties.
You deserve the best possible representation. At The Law Place, a lawyer will become your advocate. They have extensive knowledge and experience and will fight by your side to secure the best possible outcome. Do not let one mistake impact on the rest of your life.
If you wait until after you have been charged to realize the seriousness of what you will be facing, it will already be too late.
Don’t wait! Contact us on (941) 444-4444 and arrange a free consultation.