In many countries, the legal drinking age is eighteen. In the United States, however, the law in all 50 states restricts anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing an alcoholic beverage. In Isla Vista and the rest of California, you must also be at least 21 to possess or consume alcohol. Anyone under 21 who is found to be in possession of alcohol in the state could be charged with a misdemeanor, a crime punishable by fines, community service, and further consequences depending on the circumstances.
At the Aron Law Firm, our criminal defense lawyers in Isla Vista work tirelessly to protect the rights of minors facing unjust charges for “minors in possession.” We understand that trivial youthful lapses can profoundly affect a young person's future employment and education opportunities. Suppose you or someone you care about is facing a charge for possessing alcohol as a minor. In that case, our criminal defense attorneys may utilize their extensive skill and knowledge to reduce the consequences that these allegations could have on your future.
What is the Minor in Possession of Alcohol Law in California?
Under California Business and Professions Code Section 25662, it is unlawful for anyone under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcohol in the State of California. The law forbids minors under 21 years of age from possessing or consuming alcohol in any public place. It is also unlawful for minors to purchase alcohol or even hold an unopened alcohol container.
In order to garner a conviction for minor in possession, the prosecution must be able to prove each of the following elements:
- The defendant was under 21 at the time of the offense
- The defendant possessed an alcoholic beverage
- The possession occurred on a street or highway or in any place open to the public
The prosecution does not need to prove that the minor was drinking the alcoholic beverage or exceeded a particular intoxication level for a guilty verdict to stand.
What Are the Potential Consequences for Minors in Possession of Alcohol in Isla Vista?
Per Business and Professions Code Section 25662, anyone under the age of 21 who drinks or is in possession of alcohol in Isla Vista, California, may face any of the following penalties upon a conviction:
- A fine of $250 (or $500 for a subsequent offense)
- Community service from 24–32 hours that does not interfere with school or working hours (or from 36–48 hours for subsequent offenses)
- Participation in a youthful alcohol or drug treatment program
- A one-year driver's license suspension or a one-year suspension delaying entitlement to acquire a driver's license if you have not yet received one from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
While minors in possession of alcohol may only face penalties that include community service and fines, it is still a misdemeanor charge that will appear on your permanent criminal record. Anyone who requests a background check will be able to see your conviction, essentially weakening your ability to work in certain careers or secure a place to live.
California DUI Laws That Pertain to Minors Under the Age of 21
In California, if a person under the age of 21 not only possesses alcohol but also consumes alcohol and then drives, they face prosecution under California's DUI laws that pertain to minors under 21. These include:
- California Vehicle Code 23136 VC: California's Zero Tolerance Law
- California Vehicle Code 23140 VC: Under 21 DUI with a BAC of 0.05% – 0.07%
- California Vehicle Code 23152 VC: Driving Under the Influence
The penalties for these offenses will vary and depend on which charge you face, the circumstances surrounding the offense, and whether it is your first, second, or subsequent offense. A first-time conviction will carry lesser penalties than subsequent convictions.
What Happens if You are Charged with Minor in Possession as a Juvenile?
Suppose an offender is under the age of eighteen when they are arrested for minor in possession. In such a situation, their case will be processed through the California Juvenile Court system – meaning instead of a jury trial, the case would be settled during a juvenile adjudication hearing.
Should the judge “sustain” the petition (the equivalence of a guilty verdict in the California Juvenile Court system) during the hearing, then a misdemeanor will be solidified on the defendant's permanent criminal record.
At the Aron Law Firm, we have the skills required to defend a charge for minor in possession effectively. Our criminal defense team can help you attempt to seal your California juvenile records or expunge your California adult criminal records.
How Could a Conviction for Minor in Possession in California Affect Your Future?
In California, a conviction for minor in possession becomes part of an offenders' permanent criminal record. This mark on what may otherwise be a clean criminal history could affect the rest of an offender's life. Criminal convictions can cost young people the future they have always dreamed of by preventing employment opportunities and blocking admission into coveted universities.
If you value your future and are facing a criminal charge for minor in possession, it is imperative to acquire legal representation for the protection of your rights. An accomplished criminal defense attorney who has experience defending these types of allegations can help you try to maintain a squeaky-clean record. At Aron Law Firm, we formulate strong defense strategies to help our clients fight charges for minor in possession because we know how important it is for teens to sustain a clean criminal record for a bright future.
Defending a Charge for Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Isla Vista, California
The Aron Law Firm's criminal defense lawyers have successfully raised defenses in cases involving underage possession of alcohol. Some defense strategies necessitate arguing the implementation of the law, while others include debating the particular events of the case.
If you, as a minor, were accused of possession of alcohol in Isla Vista, the Aron Law Firm criminal defense team might utilize the following defenses:
- Lack of knowledge that the beverage possessed was alcoholic
- The incapability of prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who had control over the beverage
- The possessed drink was not, in fact, alcoholic
- You possessed alcohol for an approved limited purpose under the direction of a parent, caregiver, or employer
- You did not possess the alcoholic beverage but were instead holding it for a friend, not realizing its content
- Inadequate proof that the minor understood they were in possession of the alcoholic beverage
- Failure of law enforcement to maintain evidence of the beverage's alcoholic contents
- The alcohol was discovered during an illegal search and seizure or without legal justification
- You acted responsibly by calling 911 to report that you or another minor needed medical aid
Our Isla Vista criminal defense lawyers stress that there can be harsh consequences for a relatively common and lesser offense—especially when they're unwarranted. Many California allegations of minors in possession of alcohol involve circumstances in which a minor was never in control of alcohol in any way. Instead, they were spending time with others who were. Police will often name everyone present at a place where any minors have been drinking, even though they never saw a specific person in possession of alcohol or actually consuming alcohol.
Contact a Skilled Isla Vista Defense Attorney for Minor in Possession of Alcohol
Suppose you or someone you care about is facing a charge for minor in possession of alcohol in Isla Vista. In that case, we invite you to contact the criminal defense lawyers at the Aron Law Firm to discover your rights and legal options available in your unique case. Our attorneys have a demonstrated track record of reducing the penalties related to minors in possession of alcohol, underage DUI cases, and more.
You can be confident that your case will be defended to the highest degree when you entrust the Aron Law Firm team with your case. Our legal team is lead by former Deputy District Attorney William M. Aron, who has litigated on behalf of and against some of the largest law firms in the world. To schedule a confidential evaluation of your case and to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your situation, give us a call at (805) 618-1768 or fill out our online contact form. We are available whenever you need us, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.