Defenses for a Minor in Possession of Alcohol
If you’re under 21 and are caught possessing alcohol, you face very serious consequences. However, you can still defend your case to lower the charges against you. The right defenses can save you from a lot of trouble.
Valid Reasons for Possession
Surprisingly, there are valid reasons for a minor to be in possession of alcohol. One of the most common defenses used in these cases is if a parent or guardian over the age of 21 is present. A minor may also be allowed to possess alcohol if they are at a private residence. For example, a parent or guardian may allow their child to drink while in the home and while under supervision. Beyond being on private property or having an off-age guardian present, minors can also be in possession of alcohol for certain purposes. These include religious services, educational purposes, and for medical reasons. Lastly, a minor may be in possession of alcohol if they are employed by a business that sells alcohol. Evaluate your situation and determine if there were any exceptions that apply to you.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
Through due process, every citizen is allowed certain rights by law. One such right is the right to only undergo lawful searches and seizures that are authorized by a valid warrant. This warrant needs to be signed and/or administered by a judge. If your home, person, or property were searched without a warrant and alcohol was found, this can be used as a defense in your case. Yes, you were in possession of alcohol, but this evidence was found unlawfully. If proper procedures are not followed, then evidence found is not admissible.
Involuntary or Forced Intoxication
Unfortunately, there are cases when a minor is in possession of alcohol and intoxicated against their will. There are two potential scenarios where this may occur. The first is if a minor is given alcohol without their knowledge, such as being drugged. The second case is if the minor is forced to drink alcohol. For example, they may be threatened if they don’t drink. In these cases, the minor is not at fault for the incident. If you were involuntarily or forcibly intoxicated, this is a strong defense for your case.
Possessing alcohol as a minor is a serious situation, but there are defenses you may employ. Evaluate your situation and determine what defense will best apply to you. Meeting with an attorney can help you to best build your case.
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Bradley Corbett is a criminal defense attorney in San Diego. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo Utah in 2004. Later he enrolled at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where he participated in a prestigious internship program with the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Since then he has handled over 2,000 cases.