Minor in Possession
Having an arrest on your record as a juvenile is a tough burden. No matter the charge, it can affect your adult life and your future. A criminal record could make it difficult to find a job or rent a home. High school and college students could face serious consequences regarding their education.
Possessing alcohol under the age of 21 in Florida is a criminal offense, and a conviction could haunt you. Law enforcement officers often catch minors in possession of beer, mixed drinks and liquor through sting operations, and they typically are focused at bars, nightclubs and sporting events.
In many of these cases, the law enforcement officer will release the young person at the scene with a notice to appear in court at a later date. Even if the charge did not involve a formal arrest, the consequences still can be serious. You need to discuss your case with a lawyer and try to get the charges reduced or dropped.
Melbourne Minor in Possession Lawyer
If you or your child has been charged with underage possession of an alcoholic beverage in Brevard County, contact an experienced Melbourne minor in possession attorney at Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy. The team at Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy are skilled in helping juveniles facing a variety of charges. They will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.
Call (321) 253-3447 to schedule a free case evaluation. The Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy represents juvenile clients throughout Palm Bay, Rockledge, Titusville, Cocoa, West Melbourne, Indian Harbour Beach and the surrounding areas.
Alcohol Possession Under 21 Info Center
- Elements of Underage Possession of an Alcoholic Beverage
- Driver’s License Suspension in Florida for Under 21 Alcohol Possession
- Finding an Attorney for Possession of Alcohol as a Minor in Brevard County
Elements of Underage Possession of an Alcoholic Beverage
Florida Statute Annotated § 562.111 prohibits the possession of alcoholic beverages by minors who are under age 21. Possession of alcohol can be actual possession, meaning it could be in your hands, or constructive possession, simply in your control.
The elements of the charge require proof beyond all reasonable doubt that the person had control over the alcohol. The prosecution also has to prove the minor had knowledge of the alcohol and had it within his or her presence.
The prosecutor is required to prove the container law enforcement officers found actually contained alcohol. In many cases, the prosecutor will not have evidence identifying the substance in the can, bottle or other container.
Circumstantial evidence can be used in some cases to prove a minor possessed alcohol, including:
- The minor has a breath alcohol concentration level higher than the legal limit, which is .02 percent for people under age 21 in Florida
- The officer smelled or tested the substance in the container to determine it was alcohol
- The accused admitted the substance was alcohol
The goal in these cases is getting the criminal charge completely dropped to protect the minor from a criminal record. It also is important to protect the person from a mandatory driver’s license suspension that occurs after a conviction.
Related charges include disorderly intoxication under Florida Statute § 856.011, the sale of alcohol to a minor under § 562.11 and the sale of alcohol without a license under § 562.11.
Florida Penalties for Alcohol Possession for a Person Under 21 If a minor under age 21 possesses alcohol in Florida it is considered illegal and can be punishable by jail time, fines or both. Additionally, your driving privilege may be revoked. However, this excludes any minor who is working in an establishment licensed to sell alcohol.
A first offense is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. A second offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree and is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If you are charged with underage possession of alcohol, in addition to possible jail time and fines, you could face having your driver’s license suspended.
The statutory scheme says the court shall direct the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to withhold issuance of, suspend or revoke the violator’s driver’s license under Florida Statute Section 322.056. For the first violation, the suspension is not less than six months and not more than one year. For the second offense, it would be suspended not less than 24 months.
If the minor’s driver’s license already is suspended, the period could be extended. For the first offense, six to 12 months could be added to the sentence. Twenty-four months would be added to the suspension for the second offense.
If the accused is not old enough for a driver’s license, his or her driver’s license could be withheld. For the first offense, it could be withheld between six months and one year from the date he or she becomes eligible. For a second offense, the driving privilege would be withheld two years from the date the accused becomes eligible.
However, the court may direct the department to issue a license for driving privileges restricted to business or employment purposes only, as defined in s. 322.271, if the person is otherwise qualified for such a license.
A criminal record as a juvenile can haunt you as an adult. If you have been charged with underage possession of alcohol, call a Melbourne criminal defense attorney at Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy. Call (321) 253-3447 to schedule a free case evaluation.