In the United States, the minimum legal drinking age is 21. However, it is not only underage drinking that is punishable by law. Even just possession of alcohol is forbidden for people under the age of 21. The penalties for this can include fines, probation, or even a prison sentence. This will remain on the person’s criminal record and could damage their future prospects.
Do you or a love one face charges for underage possession of alcohol? If yes, then we recommend seeking professional legal assistance. At The Law Place, we understand that it can be very frightening to find yourself in such a situation. You can contact us today for a non-binding, free consultation to see what options you have. If you become our client, you will get access to a professional criminal defense attorney who will help you create a strong defense for your case and will support you through the whole process. This way, you can ensure that you get the best possible outcome.
Do not hesitate and call today to schedule a free consultation in Venice, FL. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (941) 444-4444.
Regulations Related to Alcohol in Florida
Most people are aware that the minimum legal age for drinking alcohol in the United States is 21 years. However, there are some rules and regulations related to alcohol in Florida that you may not know about. Here are some of the most important ones:
- It is illegal when a parent serves alcohol to their child that is younger than 21. There are no exceptions. Minors are not allowed to drink alcohol even at home celebrations, and parents must not buy alcoholic beverages for them at restaurants or hotels.
- Workers of a dining facility who are under the age of 18 must neither sell nor serve alcoholic beverages to any clients. Workers over 18 are allowed to do so.
- It is forbidden to use a fake ID to enter a facility or buy alcohol. If an employee of the facility recognizes that a person’s ID is fake, they must refuse to sell them alcohol and immediately call the police.
- It is forbidden to sell or serve alcohol to minors under any circumstances.
If you find yourself in any of these situations, either as a parent or as a minor, please seek legal advice. It is hard to fight these cases on your own. At The Law Place, we will provide you with strong backing and support through the whole case.
What Does the Term “Possession of Alcohol” Mean?
According to Florida Statute 562.111, it is illegal for a person who is younger than 21 to have an alcoholic beverage in their possession. The term alcoholic beverage refers to any beverage that contains any amount of alcohol, e.g., wine, beer, spirits, or mixed drinks. Keep in mind that even some non-alcoholic beers contain a small amount of alcohol and therefore should not be consumed by minors or found in their possession.
There are two types of possession:
- Actual possession means that the underage person had alcohol on their person.
- Constructive possession means that the possession of alcohol is only alleged. This can happen, for example, at a party where there is no evidence that the underage person was in possession of an alcoholic beverage, but it was accessible to them, and it can be assumed that they consumed it.
What Are the Charges for Underage Possession of Alcohol in Venice, FL?
In Florida, underage possession of alcohol is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. Penalties for such an offense can include a fine of up to $500, six months of probation, or even up to 60 days in jail. However, if the minor repeats the offense, it might be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. In this case, the punishment can reach up to a $1,000 fine, twelve months of probation, and one year in jail. In both cases, you will receive a permanent criminal record, which can affect your future prospects regarding education or work.
According to Florida Statute 322.055, if a person under the age of 21 is found guilty of possession of alcohol, the court will order the suspension of their driver’s license for 6 months. In the case of a repeated offense, this period can be extended to up to 2 years. Additionally, according to Florida Statute 322.056, the same applies to minors who do not have their driver’s license yet because they are too young. The date when they would normally become eligible will be postponed by 6 months.
However, if your license gets suspended, you can contact the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) department. They might issue a hardship license to you, which would ensure that you can still drive to school or work.
What Are the Charges for Using a Fake ID in Venice, FL?
As stipulated in Florida Statute 322.212, it is illegal to even possess an ID that was not legally issued to you. In particular, the statute prohibits you from possessing or using a “blank, forged, stolen, fictitious, counterfeit, or unlawfully issued driver’s license or identification card.”
Using a fake ID is classified as a third-degree felony in Florida. However, you can also be convicted just for issuing a fake ID to a minor. The charges for this can reach up to a $5,000 fine or 5 years in jail. It is also illegal to lend an underage person your ID to enable them to buy alcohol. If they are caught, you will face severe consequences as well.
Other Consequences of Underage Possession of Alcohol in Venice, Florida
Apart from the charges mentioned above, you will also receive a permanent criminal record, which can impact your future prospects. Below we list several situations where a criminal record might matter:
- Applying for admission to an educational institution.
- Continuing with your current education.
- Finding or keeping a job.
- Receiving financial support (e.g., a bank overdraft).
- Financing your housing (you might struggle with securing a rent, loan, or mortgage agreement).
- Receiving/ maintaining visitation or custody rights for your children.
So, if you are under 21, please think twice about your actions. You are young, and your entire life is ahead of you. You do not want to ruin it just for one evening of fun.
However, at The Law Place, we know that everybody makes mistakes. Facing criminal charges is very frightening for everyone, not to mention minors. We believe that it is important to provide you with backing and support. Do not be afraid to contact us. We will not judge you. Call today and let us provide you with professional legal support. We will do what we can to lower the impact of your actions on your future.
What Can The Law Place Do for You?
Contacting a professional criminal defense lawyer in this situation is a very good idea. They have experience in the field and will advise you on the best steps for your particular case. We have already handled hundreds of cases similar to yours, so we know which steps you should take and avoid. You can contact us for a free consultation and then decide whether you want our representation or not.
One of the things that could improve your position is going through a pretrial intervention (PTI) or pretrial diversion (PTD) program. These programs are designed to give first-time offenders a second chance. If you complete them successfully, the state attorney’s office could lower your charges or even drop them altogether. PTI and PTD are here to provide you with counseling, education, supervision, and, if necessary, medical and psychological treatment in order to prevent any future offenses.
Within these programs, you are required to fulfill certain conditions. These can include paying the fine, participating in some kind of community service, and, if required, completing an alcohol prevention class. Contact one of our criminal defense attorneys to learn more about your options regarding these programs.
Possible Defense to Underage Possession of Alcohol in Venice, Florida
If you are facing criminal charges for underage possession of alcohol, it is important that you hire an experienced defense attorney. At The Law Place, you can be sure you will get the best of the best as most of our attorneys are AVVO rated 10.0. If you become our client, one of our attorneys will become your advocate and will fight for the best outcome for you. They will work tirelessly together with a team of other professionals from our law firm to ensure your charges are dropped or at least lowered to a minimum. The defense will be aggressive and tailored to your particular case. The following list includes the most common defenses your advocate can use:
- Lack of awareness – You did not know that the drink in your possession was alcoholic. For example, a friend gave it to you to hold for a moment, and you had no idea it was alcoholic.
- Lack of evidence – The prosecutor, must sufficiently prove you were in possession of alcohol. Until then, you must be considered innocent. If they did not keep the beverage for evidence, they might not be able to prove it was alcoholic.
- The police did not follow protocol – For example, they arrested you before they learned you were under the age of 21 or failed to read you your Miranda warnings.
- Lack of evidence in case of constructive possession of alcohol – The prosecutor must sufficiently prove that you had control over the alcoholic beverages. Until then, you must be considered innocent.
- No warrant – The police did not have a search warrant, so they were not entitled to enter the property.
- Entrapment – Somebody knowingly created a situation for you to be caught in possession of an alcoholic drink that you would not have been in otherwise.
How Can You Recognize a Reputable Law Firm?
If you find yourself charged with a crime, you want to be sure that your legal defense will be strong and uncompromising. But how do you recognize a reputable law firm when there are so many to choose from?
A decent law firm will want to know more about you and your case before committing to representation. They will also answer your questions and provide you with options before charging you any money. In other words, they should offer you a free consultation or free case evaluation. You also should not have to wait for your appointment too long, as time is of the essence in most cases. Furthermore, a reputable company will not hide any costs from you. They should explain to you how their fee structure works, and they should stick to it. And finally, they should be able to provide you with references from other clients so that you know that others were happy with their services.
The Law Place is a law firm that ticks all of these boxes. Call today for a free consultation.
Contact The Law Place Today for a Free Consultation in Venice, Florida
With more than 75 years of combined experience, our team professional lawyers are experienced in many areas of law, including underage possession of alcohol. We work as a team, so hiring one attorney actually means that you get the knowledge of a whole team of attorneys. Do not hesitate to contact us today. There is no shame in asking for help, and nobody will judge you for your situation. We are keen to help you restore your future prospects. With us, you can stop worrying about your case. Your future is in safe hands.
Call us today and schedule a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Phone lines are open 24/7.