Minor in Possession of Alcohol is where a person under 21 years of age ingests or drinks an alcoholic beverage. No breathalyzer or alcohol tests are required by law for an officer to charge a minor, nor are they required for a Judge or Jury to convict the minor. Possession doesn't mean ownership; merely being near alcohol and having control over it is enough. Control generally means the ability and permission to access it. Control over alcohol might be a cooler at a campsite shared by several people. However, a private refrigerator in a private bedroom of a shared apartment is probably not. Read more details about Possession in the Defenses section below.
For individuals cited for Possession of Alcohol by a Minor, the offense is considered a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $500. For minors previously convicted of two underage drinking offense or more, the third is enhanced. The third offense is punishable by fines >$250 up to $2,000, and even has the potential for jail time.
We focus on dismissal. Wny? Due to the Underage Drinking Laws in Texas, a Conviction will Suspend the minor's Driver's License or delay the ability to obtain one. If convicted, the minor must attend and complete a mandatory education class for alcohol awareness, and must complete community service at an anti-alcohol agency or group (organizations that aid those with alcohol issues or alcohol awareness).
In Austin, we can usually negotiate dismissals, even if the prosecutors can prove the case. These cases often come down to the officer's report, which is a preview of what that officer would testify to if called at trial. If the officer listed enough detail in the report to show that the minor had consumed (any) alcohol, such as smell, bloodshot eyes, stumbling, or the most common admission of drinking, then prosecutors will often insist upon the Alcohol Awareness Class and community service. Most courts require fines and court costs, most likely in effort to demonstrate to the minor that there are consequences to actions.
For more information, please see our FAQs on Underage Drinking below.
Related areas to Minor in Possession of Alcohol include tickets and offenses under the umbrella of underage drinking such as Minor in Consumption of Alcohol, or minors using a fake identification card, on aMisrepresentation of Age Case.
If you're looking for other offenses that are related to this one, you can see more information below, or click related legal offenses.
Although it's possible, usually a person charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol is not arrested and taken to jail -- at least in Austin. Officers will often issue a citation requiring that person to appear in court by a certain date. Still, in rare situations, Minor in Possession of Alcohol does result in an arrest. Keates Law Firm can act quickly to assist with a personal bond to release that person. Be sure to read more about Bond, Personal Bonds, and Travis County Jail Releases.
Possession requires knowledge and control over the item, here alcohol. In most cases, knowledge will be easy for the prosecutor to prove, since can or bottle of beer (or other alcohol) is typically visible. But Control often times comes into play. Texas Penal Code ?? 1.07 defines Possession as: "actual care, custody, control, or management."
Notice that "actual care, custody, control, or management" does not include mere access to. The statute requires more than merely being able to "grab it." For instance, if one person has a can of beer in a car, officers can charge all the people in the car. But in reality, it would be difficult for the prosecutor to prove that each person in the car had control over the alcohol, which was in another person's hand. Likewise, beer in the personal fridge of a 21 year old in an apartment may have the defense of "no control" over that alcohol, if another roommate is arrested for Minor in Possession of Alcohol.
If you'd like to talk in detail about your situation, or if you have questions, contact us for a Free Case Consultation. Keep in mind, Keates Law Firm only practices in Austin and Travis County.
Hiring the right attorney from the beginning is important. Poor legal decisions will have a negative effect upon the case as it progresses. The Keates Law Firm has over 16+ Years Experience handling Minor in Possession of Alcohol cases. Our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.
Call Us to talk about your particular case and situation. It's a 100% Free Phone Consultation with Criminal Defense Attorney Keates. No Sales Pitches, No Hassles. We'll see if we are the right Law Firm for you, and give you a quote. Be sure to check out Keates Law Firm's Reviews and also our past cases and Results.
Your goal should be Dismissal for any Minor in Possession of Alcohol charge. A Dismissal will allow a person to later seek an Expunction of a Criminal Record, which is where a Judge Orders the offense records destroyed, including police reports, court records, and prosecutor files.
Keates Law Firm has a track record of dismissals for Minor in Possession of Alcohol. Most Minor in Possession of Alcohol cases result in negotiated dismissals, where there's usually a trade-off of community service and a class in exchange for a dismissal -- but not always. The main hurdle is convincing the prosecutor to agree to dismiss the case, and Keates Law Firm has experience in Austin's Travis County courts doing just that.
(a) A minor commits an offense if he possesses an alcoholic beverage.
|Level of Offense||Punishment|
|Class C Misdemeanor||Not Jailable, No more than $500 fines|
|Class B Misdemeanor||Not more than 180 days in a county jail, and/or no more than $2,000 fines|
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