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It is not uncommon for college and high school students to be charged with possession of an alcoholic beverage by a person under 21 years of age. The officer often has the discretion to arrest the young person on the spot or to issue a notice to appear. In either case, the young person must go to court to answer the criminal charge or risk additional consequences.
A person under the age of 18 will be charged in juvenile court, while a person who is between the age of 18 and 21 will be charged in adult court. Defenses include showing that the initial detention was unreasonable. In other cases, if the officer failed to preserve a sample of the beverage a motion to dismiss can be filed.
Contact an attorney at Galigani Law Firm to discuss defenses that may apply under the particular facts and circumstances of your case for any prosecution in Alachua County, Marion County, Levy County or nearby areas. Call (352) 375-0812 for a free, confidential consultation. With what is at stake, you owe it to your future to combat these charges with an experienced Gainesville defense attorney.
For a first offense, the crime of possession of an alcoholic beverage is a second-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail or 6 months probation, and / or a fine of $500 plus standard court costs. For a second or subsequent charge, the crime is a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail or 1-year probation and/or a $1,000.00 fine. Additionally, the charge can result in a driver's license suspension.
If you’re over the age of 18, yes you can definitely end up in jail for underaged drinking. Since you are an adult and it’s a criminal offense, there’s a high chance you’ll be booked in jail until someone bails you out. The length of the jail time will depend on how fast you can secure a bond. If you’ve hired an attorney, they can advocate for you and help you secure a bond early. That way you can spend minimal time in jail and start working on your defense.
However, if you’re under the age of 18, you will not be sentenced to jail. Instead, your case will be processed through the juvenile judicial system, which doesn’t detain minors in jail. You could be detained at a juvenile delinquent center, but it’s much more likely you’ll be held at the police station until your guardian can pick you up. You will still have to face consequences for your actions even as a minor. You’ll be required to attend juvenile court and they will determine an appropriate punishment whether it be house arrest, alcohol and substance abuse classes, therapy, or community service.
In addition to the criminal charges, a student in Florida can face a college student disciplinary proceeding through the university. Sanctions can include a finding that the student is "responsible" or "not responsible" for the accusation. If the student is found to be responsible, the University of Florida can impose certain sanctions including a requirement that the student obtains an alcohol evaluation and completion of follow-up treatment. Even though the student has faced disciplinary action by the college, he or she may still be subject to charges in criminal court. The reverse also applies.
SADD | Students Against Destructive Decisions – Visit the official website for the national non-profit group known as Students Against Destructive Decisions, also known as SADD. Access the site to learn more about their mission to end underaged drinking and other decisions, information on how alcohol or drugs effect your body, and resources for young people.
Underaged Drinking Laws in Florida – Visit the official website for Online Sunshine, a current collection of Florida’s legislation and laws. Access the site to learn more about the crime of underaged drinking, exemptions according to the statute, and other related offenses such as providing alcohol to minors.
The attorneys at Galigani Law Firm are experienced in representing young people charged with possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21 in Central Florida, including Gainesville, Lake City, and Ocala. Our attorneys are also experienced in fighting to protect a student during a disciplinary hearing at the University of Florida, City College, Santa Fe College, Saint Leo University, and other local institutions of higher learning. Call or send an online message to discuss your unique situation with a dedicated Gainesville defense attorney.
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"Dean Galigani was supportive when my son was arrested for underage possession of alcohol..." - David