Possession of Alcohol by a Minor
The criminal charge of possession of alcohol by a minor under twenty-one years of age is a second-degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute § 562.111. If convicted, this criminal charge creates a criminal record that can follow the young person forever.
Law enforcement officers often use elaborate sting operations to catch young people in possession of an alcoholic beverage. Many of these sting operations center around nightclubs and sporting events. In many of these cases, the law enforcement officer will release the young person at the scene with a notice to appear in court at a later date. Even if the charge did not involve a formal arrest, the consequences of a conviction still serious.
In many of these cases, the law enforcement officers do not have sufficient evidence to prove the charges beyond all reasonable doubt. Even with sufficient evidence, the prosecutor might be convinced to drop the charges because of mitigation in the case. The goal in these cases is getting the criminal charge completely dropped because it is the only way of protecting the young person from a criminal record. It is also important to protect the person from a mandatory driver’s license suspension that occurs after a conviction.
Lawyer for a Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Hernando County
If you or your child was charged with possession of an alcoholic beverage in Hernando County or the surrounding counties of Citrus, Sumter, or Pasco County, Florida, be sure to contact The Law Office of Ashley Aulls. Having an experienced defense attorney like Ashley Aulls on your side can relieve the stress. With over 20 years of experience, Ashley Aulls knows what it takes to win a case. Call (352) 593-4115 today to discuss your case.
Information on Minor in Possession Charges in Florida
- Penalties for Alcohol Possession for a Person Under 21 in Florida
- Driver’s License Suspension in Florida for Under Age 21 Alcohol Possession
- Elements of Underaged Possession of an Alcoholic Beverage
- Finding an Attorney for Underaged Possession of Alcohol in Hernando County, Florida
In Florida, it’s against the law for a person under 21 to be in possession of an acholic beverage. Underaged alcohol possession can be classified as a first or second-degree misdemeanor. Penalties include jail time, probation, and a criminal record.
Florida Statute Section 562.111 prohibits the possession of alcoholic beverages by persons under age 21. The statute provides that it is “unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years… to have in her or his possession alcoholic beverages…..” The criminal penalties for under age 21 possession of alcohol include:
- first offense – a misdemeanor of the second degree is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine;
- second offense – a misdemeanor of the first degree is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
A conviction for underage possession of an alcoholic beverage also comes with a driver’s license suspension. The statutory scheme provides that the court shall direct the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to withhold issuance of, or suspend or revoke, the violator’s driver’s license or driving privilege under Florida Statute Section 322.056 for:
- Not less than 6 months and not more than 1 year for the first violation; or
- Not less than 24 months for a second or subsequent violation.
The person’s driver’s license or driving privilege is under suspension or revocation for any reason, the court shall direct the department to extend the period of suspension or revocation by an additional period of:
- Not less than 6 months and not more than 1 year for the first violation.
- Twenty-four months for a second or subsequent violation.
If the person is ineligible by reason of age for a driver’s license or driving privilege, the court shall direct the department to withhold issuance of his or her driver’s license or driving privilege for a period of:
- Not less than 6 months and not more than 1 year after the date on which he or she would otherwise have become eligible, for the first violation; or
- Two years after the date on which he or she would otherwise have become eligible, for a second or subsequent violation.
However, the court may, in its sound discretion, direct the department to issue a license for driving privileges restricted to business or employment purposes only, as defined in s. 322.271, if the person is otherwise qualified for such a license.
The elements of the charge require proof beyond all reasonable doubt of the following elements:
- the child had dominion and control over the alcohol;
- the child had knowledge of the illicit nature of the alcohol, and
- the child had knowledge that the alcohol was within her presence.
See E.A.M. v. State, 684 So.2d 283, 284 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996) (citing Skelton v. State, 609 So.2d 716, 716–17 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992)). Possession can be actual possession, or in certain cases, constructive possession.
The prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office is required to prove that the content found actually contained alcohol. See S.C.S. v. State, 831 So.2d 264, 264 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002). In many of these cases, the prosecutor will lack any evidence identifying the substance inside the can. In some cases, other circumstantial evidence can be used to prove possession of alcohol by a minor including:
- the child has a breath alcohol concentration as shown on a breathalyzer test;
- the officer smelled or tested the substance in the container to determine it was in fact, an alcoholic beverage;
- the container or liquid is subjected to testing to identify the substance; and
- the child admitted that the substance was alcohol.
Related charges include disorderly intoxication under Florida Statute § 856.011, the Sale of Alcohol to a Minor under § 562.11, and the Sale of Alcohol Without a License under § 562.11.
If you were arrested for or cited with possession of an alcoholic beverage then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A.. Ashley Aulls represents young people charged with under 21 possession of an alcoholic beverage throughout Brooksville, Hernando County, Florida, and the surrounding areas of Inverness in Citrus County, New Port Richey, and Dade City in Pasco County, and Bushnell in Sumter County.