How to Fix a Minor in Possession of Alcohol Charge
An underage drinking (minor in possession of alcohol) charge may not be a tremendously serious crime, but it’s something that should be handled by an experienced criminal lawyer to protect your rights. Most people simply want to work out the absolute best deal possible and avoid anything that screws up your CORI.
If you are a parent, you are probably very concerned about the impact of your child having a criminal record. Keeping a clean record can be vitally important since any conviction will show up on a background check.
A criminal record can negatively impact your life for years to come. It can affect scholarships, volunteer opportunities, job applications, or any situation where a background check could reflect poorly on you.
The good news is that a damaging criminal record is avoidable in most cases.
I Got a Citation for a Minor Alcohol Possession. What do I do?
Very often, these cases start with a criminal citation, either through the mail or handed to you in person by a police officer. The citation will be for a “LIQUOR, PERSON UNDER 21 POSSESSION – 138/34C/A”
The first thing you must do it send in your request for a clerk magistrate’s hearing (show cause hearing). You have only 4 days to get it in, so don’t delay.
Then give me a call (or text me anytime) and I’ll let you know how I can help you solve this problem.
Minor in Possession of Alcohol Penalties
If you are convicted of being a minor in possession of alcohol, you will receive a fine or $50 for a first offense, and $150 for a second offense. In addition, a conviction will result in a 90-day driver’s license suspension.
The suspension is not mandatory if the plea deal is for a continuance without a finding (CWOF), which is another reason it is always worth pursuing every legal defense option that avoids pleading guilty.
While the fines and even the license suspension aren’t life-changing penalties, the criminal record aspect can be a hindrance to future opportunities in some cases, so it is worth looking to avoid a criminal record for you or your child.
And it is often possible to avoid a conviction at a clerk’s hearing, in exchange for attending an alcohol education class.
Ref: Possession of Liquor Under 21 MGL 138 34c
Minor Alcohol Possession Defense Strategies
I first look for every opportunity to get the charges dismissed, from getting the charge killed before it is even filed at a clerk’s hearing where dismissals are easier to obtain, to filing motions to suppress the evidence on the basis of an illegal search or other constitutional rights that may apply.
I will aggressively fight the charges against you every step of the way, from motion hearings all the way to a jury trial if necessary.
The initial summons to a clerk magistrate’s hearing is usually the best opportunity to get a case tossed. You have 4 days to request a hearing, so get your paperwork in immediately, and call me.
I wrote a book on winning cases at Clerk Magistrate’s hearings.
When a dismissal or a trial is not an option, I will fight for the best deal possible. I will try to get the DA to agree to what is known as a “continuance without a finding”. A CWOF is a plea agreement that stops short of a guilty finding. The important difference in agreeing to a CWOF is that in the future if you are asked on a job application “Have ever been convicted of a crime?”, you can honestly and legally answer “No”.
There are also often opportunities to get the prosecutor to agree to a diversion program for 17 to 21-year-olds where the person agrees to some community service hours and possibly alcohol education classes.
Upon successful completion of a pretrial diversion program, the incident is completely removed from any CORI database, so it will not affect you or your child’s future. So it is a no-brainer to do a little service and go to a few AA meetings if that can sweep this incident from your record.
The approach I will take to your case really depends on the specific facts. I can discuss all the options available to you in a free consultation meeting. I’ll look over the police report, and give you an honest assessment of what I think of your case, and what might be our best chance to beat it.
Where do Minor In Possession Charges Commonly Happen?
The most common spots are on college campuses, outdoor concert events, or other public gatherings, but it can be absolutely anywhere.
- The UMass and Amherst town police departments write a lot of these criminal citations, for obvious reasons. These cases are heard at the Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown. I’ve been to this court many times and have won a number of hearings here.
- Summer concert events that involve any tailgating are also places the police are looking to write up minor in possession charges. Citations written at The Xfinity Center (Great Woods) in Mansfield are common. Those cases appear in the Attleboro District Court. Events at Gillette stadium in Foxboro show up in the Wrentham District Court. These are both courts I am very familiar with.
Massachusetts Social Host Law
Massachusetts is also one of the few states where adults can be charged with allowing alcohol consumption to minors on their property. This Social host law is controversial and can be unfairly charged since the adults do not even have to supply the alcohol to be charged. It is very possible to be accused of this offense without even knowing there was underage drinking going on in your home or on your property.
I am in different courts around Massachusetts every day, defending my client’s rights and freedom on charges of being a minor in possession of alcohol and many other criminal charges.
If you’ve been accused of alcohol possession as a minor (underage drinking), buying alcohol, transporting alcohol, an open container violation, or any another criminal offense, and need a lawyer who will fight for your rights, call me today.
By calling, you have nothing to lose. I’ll be happy to talk with you and discuss your case before you decide if you want to hire me. Defending people accused of crimes is what I do for a living. Call to set up a free consultation now.
Post on Massachusetts Social Host Law.