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What Happens If a Minor Possesses Alcohol in California?

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The legal drinking age across the entire United States is 21. If anyone under the age of 21 is in possession of alcohol, there are serious consequences. Understanding the law surrounding minors possessing alcohol is important. 

What Counts as Possession

Keep in mind, there are different rules when it comes to a minor consuming alcohol. Possessing alcohol is often where the situation begins. In California, there are three conditions that must be met for someone to be charged with possessing alcohol as a minor. First, they must have been under the age of 21 at the time of the offense. Second, they must have possessed an alcoholic beverage. Possession counts as personally, such as holding onto a beer, or constructively. An example of constructive possession would be if you set a beer down, but it is still under your control. Third, you must have been in a public place or a place that the public has access to in order to be charged with possessing alcohol as a minor. 

Defenses and Penalties 

If you’ve been charged, there are several defenses you may pursue. First, you can prove that you didn’t possess the alcohol. For example, if you were present while other minors had alcohol but you did not possess any yourself then you can claim this defense. There are also instances where you are charged with possessing alcohol for a specific purpose. This might include an aspect of your job. Another defense you may use to fight your charges is if the alcohol was discovered during an illegal search and seizure. You can also dismiss charges if you called 911 for emergency assistance in an alcohol consumption related incident. If you are convicted, you face fines, community service, remedial course, and/or having your driver’s license revoked. 

Related Laws

Being aware of laws related to minors possessing alcohol is also important. If a minor obtains alcohol, the person who provided it can also be charged with providing alcohol to a minor. Parents and adults can also be charged if they allow minors to drink alcohol in their home and allow reckless behavior. Examples include letting the minor drive after drinking or allowing them to reach a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05%.  It is a very serious offense if a minor is found to possess alcohol. If you have been charged, you will want a criminal defense attorney on your side. They can help you navigate your case and guide you to the best possible outcome.  Looking for an attorney? Click here to get in touch with the Law Offices of Bradley Corbett. 

Bradley Corbett

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.

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