What are the Consequences of a Minor in Possession in AZ?
All parents dread getting that phone call. The one where your teenage son or daughter calls to tell them they’ve been arrested. When you’re the parent of a teenager, you don’t expect to get that kind of call. What could your child have possibly done to warrant getting arrested? They tell you they’ve been arrested and charged with the crime of minor in possession of alcohol. You rack your brain trying to think of what to do. Wisely, you get on the phone and call a criminal defense lawyer in Arizona. After speaking with their office and setting up an appointment for the next day, you can rest a bit easier.
We all have hopes that our kids will make it through life unscathed. When they get into trouble at a young age, it can have a disastrous impact on their future. Their dreams of college and a fantastic career can go up in flames in a matter of minutes. With a conviction for being in possession of alcohol, this can soon become their reality. Thankfully, an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Arizona can help get the charges dismissed. Worst case, they can likely get your child off with probation and a fine – maybe a few hours of community service.
How Does Arizona Define Minor in Possession of Alcohol?
Every state has their own laws when it comes to minors drinking or buying alcohol. The legal drinking age in every state is 21. The same is obviously true for Arizona. Most of us can think back on our high school years and remember drinking alcohol when we weren’t supposed to. It sounds like fun and games until you get caught. Arizona defines the crime of minor in possession (MIP) of alcohol pretty clearly. If someone under the age of 21 is caught drinking, buying or being in possession of alcohol, they can get an MIP ticket.
Your teenager doesn’t have to be consuming alcohol to be charged with this crime. There are essentially three types of possession under Arizona law. Section 4-244(9) of the criminal code describes them as being:
- Actual possession – A young person is caught with alcohol actually on their person. It can involve an open container or a closed can or bottle. Even if they haven’t had a drop of alcohol, they can still be charged with possession.
- Constructive possession – If someone under the age of 21 is caught with alcohol near them, they can be charged as well. If they are said to have control over the alcohol or its container, they will be charged with MIP.
- Joint possession – This is when your child is caught with others who do have alcohol on them. This is the hardest type of MIP for the prosecutor to prove. After all, it can be hard to show that your child knew that the alcohol was present.
How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Arizona Help?
Your criminal defense lawyer in Arizona can attack the State’s case from many directions. The first, and strongest, defense is that your child had no alcohol in their possession at all. Perhaps they had a portable container with lemonade and the police insisted it was spiked with vodka. Or maybe they were driving their parent’s car and there was a case of beer for an upcoming party in the trunk. The goal of your criminal defense lawyer in Arizona is to demonstrate that your teen had no intention of drinking the alcohol or giving it to their friends at a later time.
The Consequences for a Conviction for Minor in Possession
As mentioned above, the crime of minor in possession is a misdemeanor. Usually, teens are caught and charged with this crime when the police break up a party. They may get this ticket when they’re stopped for a routine traffic violation. Ideally, your criminal defense lawyer in Arizona will be able to get the charges dismissed. If not, your teen will have to pay a fine and may be sentenced to community service or probation. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it can have a devastating impact on your child’s future. It will be on their criminal record. Schools and employers will likely notice this when they apply for a certain program or job. That’s why it’s critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Arizona right away. There really is no time to wait.