Working Man Creative | Providing Alcohol to Minors
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Providing Alcohol to Minors

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Providing Alcohol to Minors



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In the United States, possession or consumption of alcohol by anyone under the age of 21 is illegal, unless the minor is in the presence of a parent, guardian, or spouse over 21. Likewise, providing alcohol to a minor is illegal, unless the provider is the minor’s parent, guardian or spouse of legal age and he or she is present when the minor possesses and consumes the alcohol. Any provider who does not fit into this exception commits a criminal offense when he or she gives alcohol to a minor. If an individual is discovered providing alcohol to a minor, he or she may be arrested and may be held liable for any damages that occur because of the minor’s intoxicated state.

What Qualifies as Providing Alcohol?

Many states have broadened the definition of providing alcohol to include a number of different circumstances. Buying alcohol for a minor and giving it to him or her, whether it was paid for by the provider or the minor, is illegal. Allowing a minor to take a drink from alcohol in your possession also qualifies as providing alcohol. In the state of Florida, additional statutes have been created that can even hold adults liable for minors drinking alcohol when the adults don’t physically give alcohol to minors. Known as the Open House Party law, this statute extends the scope of the criminal offense to include party hosts.

Open House Party Statute

According to Florida law, anyone who is in control of a residence, allows a house party, and is aware that minors are consuming alcohol or using drugs on the premises may be arrested. When the law was first enacted, it applied only to adults age 21 or older who hosted a party. Now, however, the law has been extended to include individuals as young as age 18 who knowingly allow minors to drink on their property. The provider may be an older sibling, friend, coworker, or other acquaintance, but the offense is still the same. Anyone who “looks the other way” and permits minors to drink is in violation of the Open House Party statute and may be criminally charged.

Penalties

Furnishing alcohol to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor in Florida and carries a similar charge in most states. For even a first offense, an offender may serve up to 1 year in jail and be penalized with up to a $4,000 fine. Adults who violate the Open House Party statute are more likely to be prosecuted severely because these cases typically involve a large number of minors. If you have been charged with providing alcohol to a minor, you will likely face an aggressive prosecution in court. Consider consulting with a criminal defense attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected and to help you prepare your case for court.

For More Information

To learn more about preparing your defense against criminal charges, please visit the website of experienced West Palm Beach criminal lawyers Eric N. Klein & Associates, P.A. today.

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