Possession of Alcohol by a Minor in Tampa, FL
Few criminal charges are as common among young people as possession of alcohol by a minor. Police love to use sting operations to crack down on young people who drink and the establishments that serve them. Possession of alcohol by a person under 21 is a criminal offense, not a violation like a traffic ticket. Conviction means probation or even jail time, plus a driver’s license suspension and a criminal record. Do not wait to obtain legal representation. Any criminal charge is too serious a matter to handle on your own.
If you or a loved one are facing possession of alcohol by a minor charges in the Tampa, FL, area, call Armando Edmiston, an experienced Tampa possession of alcohol by a minor criminal defense lawyer, today.
Possession of Alcohol by a Minor Defined in Tampa, FL
Under Florida law, it is illegal for any person under the age of 21 to possess alcohol except under certain circumstances. The exceptions include bartenders between the ages of 18 and 21, minors younger than 18 who work in the entertainment industry, minors younger than 18 who sell beer and wine at retail outlets (such as grocery stores), and students between 18 and 21 who taste alcohol as part of their required college coursework. Such minors are allowed to have contact with alcohol under these limited circumstances, but not to ingest it. Any other possession of alcohol by a person younger than 21 is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail or six months’ probation, plus a $500 fine. A mandatory driver’s license suspension of between six months and a year is also imposed if a defendant is younger than 18. On a second conviction, possession of alcohol by a minor is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in jail or one year’s probation, plus a $1,000 fine and a mandatory two-year license suspension if the defendant is younger than 18. It is important to note that charges against defendants between the ages of 18 and 21 are handled in adult court while charges against minors younger than 18 are usually handled in juvenile court. The distinction is important, because it is generally easier for a defendant to expunge juvenile records than adult records, and because any juvenile incarceration will take place in a juvenile detention facility rather than a jail. That said, jail time is unlikely for any age group convicted of this crime.
Possession of Alcohol by a Minor: Drug Possession in Tampa, FL
Drug possession by minors is addressed by the same laws that apply to drug possession by adults, though these, like alcohol possession charges, will generally be handled by the juvenile courts. Simple possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana for personal use is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail or one year’s probation, plus a $1,000 fine. Possession of more than 20 grams for personal use, or possession of small amounts of any other illegal drug for personal use is a third-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of five years’ incarceration. Possession of illegal drugs with intent to sell them, or possession of large quantities of illegal drugs, is a more serious felony. The more serious the offense and the older the juvenile, the more likely prosecutors will try the case in adult court, but for those convicted in juvenile court, penalties will usually be less than they would be for adults.